JR Motorsports Race Report
Friday, April 4, 2014
Race 6 of 33: Texas 300 at Texas Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile quad-oval / 200 laps
Weather: Clear, 63 degrees
Race Winner: Chase Elliott
Harvick’s Finish: 4th
Kevin Harvick extended his top-five streak with JR Motorsports with a fourth-place finish in Friday night’s Texas 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. The finish came on the heels of Harvick earning his 25th career pole award and leading a race-high 101 laps.
From the drop of the green flag, Harvick and his No. 5 Hunt Brothers Pizza team cemented themselves as the team to beat, jumping out to a six-second lead before the race’s first caution at lap 42. With only minor adjustments needed, Harvick went on to lead the opening 85 laps before losing a wheel weight on the right-front tire causing his Chevrolet’s handling to deteriorate rapidly. He was able to remain in the top five despite the issue.
After dropping to fifth, Harvick slowly began his climb back towards the top spot while battling JR Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott and Regan Smith throughout the latter stages of the race.
Before entering the pits for the final time during a lap-170 caution, Harvick worked his way back to fourth while running the fastest lap times of anyone on the track. A lightning-fast pit stop by the Hunt Brothers Pizza crew boosted Harvick three positions to the lead for the final restart with only 23 laps remaining.
Harvick grabbed the lead on the restart while trying to fend off Elliott’s hard-charging No. 9 car. In the end, Elliott was too much to handle as he took the lead and cruised to his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in only his sixth start. Harvick was left to battle Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson, who were able to take second and third, respectively.
Elliott, an 18-year-old rookie, led a dominant JRM contingent which placed four cars in the top seven, including Earnhardt Jr. in fifth and Smith in seventh. The team combined to lead 154 of 200 laps.
Kevin Harvick, driver No. 5 Hunt Brothers Pizza team
“We just lost the handle. For whatever reason, our Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy went really tight the last two runs and could not do anything to get up off the corner. I fought as hard as I could there at the end with Chase. I’ve just got to say thank you to everybody at JR Motorsports. I think the efforts really show up more and more every week. Chase is a young man who is just a ball of enthusiasm that doesn’t know any better. He’s had good teaching and does a really good job in the race car. He’s been a lot of fun to work with on a week-to-week basis. I’ve just got to congratulate him and everybody. This is a group effort for everybody that does what they do on this JR Motorsports team.”