Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Driver Scores 250th Career Sprint Cup Top-10
Date: Aug. 22, 2015
Event: Irwin Tools Night Race (Round 24 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (0.533-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 7th/2nd (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (908 points, 43 ahead of second)
Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), overcame two pit-road penalties to score a runner-up finish by .220 of a second to Joey Logano in Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
It was Harvick’s 12th top-two, 17th top-five and 21st top-10 finish of the season. The 17th top-five result marked a single-season career high for Harvick, eclipsing his 16 top-fives earned in 2010. The second-place finish was Harvick’s 250th career top-10 finish in 526 career Sprint Cup starts.
The defending Sprint Cup champion started seventh and raced his way into the fourth position before a caution on lap 127. When Harvick came to pit road for a four-tire stop, NASCAR determined that the No. 4 pit crew came over the wall too soon and assessed a penalty that sent Harvick to the tail end of the longest line, putting him in 22nd for the lap-132 restart.
The Bakersfield, California, native raced his way back into the top-10 before a lap-251 caution for debris in turn three. After a routine four-tire stop, Harvick returned to the racetrack in 11th for the lap-257 restart. A long green-flag run followed, giving the No. 4 Chevrolet enough time to race back up to the fourth position before the next caution on lap 360.
As Harvick came to pit road for a four-tire stop, a bump from behind by Denny Hamlin caused him to speed entering pit road. The penalty sent Harvick to the tail end of the longest line, where he would restart 12th on lap 367.
The Sprint Cup points leader would restart in the fifth position following a lap-431 caution, but an aggressive move when the green flag waved helped him reach the second spot on lap 440. Harvick battled through lapped traffic while attempting to chase down race leader Logano, but he was unable to make the pass on Logano before the checkered flag.
“I’ve just got to thank everybody on the Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team for just doing what they had to do to stick this out,” Harvick said. “I made a mistake there on pit road and got us behind and just didn’t get our Budweiser Chevy through traffic like Joey (Logano) did. There were a couple of times when it was pretty close, but I wasn’t letting off the gas. I just needed to be a little bit closer to him to make something happen. But all in all, I’m really proud of my team. They showed the heart and determination that you have to have. This hasn’t been my favorite place to drive, but they bring really fast race cars here, and that overcomes a lot of my talent lack that I have at this particular track.”
Harvick is the 10th Sprint Cup driver to score double-digit runner-up finishes in a single season, and the first since Bobby Allison in 1972.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 14th. It was Busch’s 17th top-15 in 20 Sprint Cup starts this season.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 19th to earn his 10th top-20 of the year.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 27th.
Logano won the Irwin Tools Night Race to score his 11th career Sprint Cup victory, his third this season and his second at Bristol.
Harvick finished .220 of a second behind Logano, while Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 52 laps with four drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race around the .533-mile oval.
With round 24 of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is first with 908 points, 43 ahead of second-place Logano. Kurt Busch is eighth with 713 points, 195 out of first. With two wins apiece, Harvick and Busch are locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Patrick is 21st with 525 points, 95 out of 16th, the cutoff position to make the 16-driver Chase field on points. Stewart is 26th with 466 points, 154 out of 16th.
The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off before returning to action Sept. 6 with the 66th annual Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The second-to-last race before the Chase starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC.