Jimmy John's Driver Makes Early Save, Delivers A Freaky Fast Finish
Date: Feb. 21, 2016
Event: 58th Daytona 500 (Round 1 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 9th/4th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Winners: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, made a great save early and rallied to deliver the top finish for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Sunday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway by finishing fourth in the 58th running of the season-opening Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Harvick earned his ninth top-five in 30 career points-paying Sprint Cup Series starts at Daytona.
Harvick started from the ninth position after finishing fourth in his Can-Am Duel on Thursday evening. The 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion raced with SHR teammate Kurt Busch in the opening laps as the two worked their way into the top-five, but on lap 19, as Harvick made a run on Dale Earnhardt Jr. for position, the back end of the No. 4 Chevrolet stepped out and forced a slide to the inside of the racetrack. Luckily, the Bakersfield, California, native made an outstanding save and was able to continue without damage.
The first caution of the day came on lap 20 almost immediately following Harvick’s slide and allowed the No. 4 team to bring the Jimmy John’s car to pit road for new tires and chassis adjustments. Harvick continued to work the outside lane, carefully making his way back to the front of the field and into position to race for the win.
The No. 4 managed to close in on the front and restarted 11th following the final caution of the day on lap 189. Harvick started on the bottom and in the closing laps jumped to the high line to race from seventh to fourth in the final run to the checkered flag.
“I was hoping that they (the leaders) would start pushing and shoving like they did to get that outside lane going,” said Harvick, the 2007 Daytona 500 champion. “You just want to be the first one to be in that outside line. Denny (Hamlin) pulled up in front of us, and he got the honor of being the first car in that line with all that momentum.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 10th after starting eighth. Busch now has 15 top-10 finishes in 30 career points-paying Sprint Cup starts at Daytona.
Brian Vickers, driving the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR in place of the injured Tony Stewart, finished 26th.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 35th after contact with another car during the final 15 laps forced her to the garage for the rest of the race.
Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 to score his 27th career Sprint Cup victory and his first at Daytona.
Martin Truex Jr. finished .01 of a second behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Kyle Busch, Harvick and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Regan Smith, Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 31 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 200-lap race.
With round one of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is fourth with 37 points, eight points behind first-place Hamlin. Busch is 10th with 31 points, 14 points out of first. Vickers is 25th with 15 points, 30 points out of first. Patrick is 34th with six points, 39 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Folds of Honor 500 on Sunday, Feb. 28, at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX.