Jimmy John’s Driver Extends His Sprint Cup Series Points Lead to 14
Date: July 17, 2016
Event: New Hampshire 301 (Round 19 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (1.058-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 8th/4th (Running, completed 301 of 301 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (636 points, 14 points ahead of second)
Winner: Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), overcame pit road misfortune early in Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon to finish fourth, marking his eighth top-five result of 2016 and his eighth top-five in 31 career starts at New Hampshire.
Harvick started eighth and immediately showed he had one of the fastest cars on the racetrack as he advanced to the third position by the competition caution on lap 35. However, an issue with the pit gun used by the rear-tire changer resulted in a slower than normal stop which, paired with a two-tire strategy by several cars, dropped the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet back to the 12th position for the lap-40 restart.
The Bakersfield, California, native quickly worked his way back into the top-five and was racing in the fourth position by the following caution on lap 101. Harvick again came to pit road for a four-tire stop, but the left-rear tire briefly got hung inside the wheel well, causing another slightly slower stop. As a result the No. 4 Chevrolet restarted in the 11th position.
The second half of the event proved much better for the No. 4 team, as Harvick raced up to the fourth position by lap 278. He reached the second spot following a lap-285 restart, but a caution immediately followed on lap 286. He restarted on the front row in the second position on lap 291, but Joey Logano pushed race-winner Matt Kenseth past Harvick on the restart and caused the No. 4 car to fall to fourth by the checkered flag on lap 301.
The Sprint Cup Series points leader extended his points lead over Brad Keselowski and now leads by 14 points.
“We just have to perform better,” said Harvick, who won the Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway from the pole position in September 2006. “We under-execute as a team on a weekly basis and got to do a better job. The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet cars are always fast, but we always do something wrong.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon by finishing second in the New Hampshire 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It was Stewart’s third top-five result this season and his 15th top-five in 34 career Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 14th.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 22nd. Busch ran in the top-five for much of the race, but a cut tire with less than 20 laps remaining led to an unscheduled pit stop that put him deep in the field.
Matt Kenseth won the New Hampshire 301 by 1.982 seconds over Stewart to score his 38th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his third at New Hampshire. Joey Logano finished third while Harvick and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 36 laps, with two drivers failing to finish the 301-lap race around the 1.058-mile oval.
With round 19 of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR and the series in the championship standings. He is first with 636 points, 14 ahead of second-place Brad Keselowski. Busch is third with 602 points, 34 behind Harvick. Patrick is 24th with 354 points, 134 ahead of 31st. Stewart is 28th with 287 points, 67 ahead of 31st.
Harvick, Busch and Stewart are all eligible to compete in the 16 driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins following the Sept. 10 race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. All have won a race this season and are among the top-30 in points, the two requirements necessary to secure a spot in the Chase. Patrick can also earn a Chase berth by winning a race and staying inside the top-30. Seven races remain before the Chase begins Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 24. The 23rd running of the event begins at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.
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