Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Driver Scores 14th Top-Two Finish of Season
Date: Oct. 11, 2015
Event: Bank of America 500 (Round 30 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Charlotte Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 11th/2nd (Running, completed 334 of 334 laps)
Point Standing: 3,042 points, 6 points out of first in the Contender Round of the Chase
Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Sunday at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway by finishing second in the rain-postponed Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It was Harvick’s series-leading 11th second-place finish this season and his 14th top-two finish in the 30 races run in 2015.
Harvick started in the 11th position. After the competition caution on lap 25, the No. 4 Chevrolet restarted seventh after a “Freaky Fast” four-tire pit stop. Harvick was racing in eighth when the third caution flag of the day came out on lap 62. He brought the Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet to pit road for another four-tire stop, and his pit crew again delivered a fast pit stop that put him back out on the track in eighth for the lap-66 restart.
Harvick brought the No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road for a two-tire pit stop following a lap-76 caution. He returned to the racetrack in the eighth position as the first car on new tires, while the top-seven cars elected to stay out. The Bakersfield, California, native raced from eighth to fourth on the ensuing restart and remained in the top-five for the remainder of the afternoon, except during green-flag pit cycles.
Oil on the racing surface brought out the eighth caution of the day on lap 195. The defending Sprint Cup champion elected to stay out and moved from fifth to third as a result of the pit strategy. He restarted third on lap 201 and immediately passed Jimmie Johnson for the second position.
The No. 4 team elected to stay out and keep the second position during the final caution of the day on lap 241. Harvick restarted second, maintained his position through his final green-flag pit stop on lap 283 and crossed the finish line less than a second behind race-winner Joey Logano.
“We could hang with him (Logano), but I would just lose him every once in a while in traffic,” said Harvick, who won the 2014 Bank of America 500. “It was just extremely hard to pass. But all in all, we weren’t very good all weekend, and the guys just did a great job on pit road to make our car better throughout the day. We were able to make our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet better as we went on. So, I’m just really proud of that. And if those are the off-days, we’ll be just fine.”
It was Harvick’s sixth top-five finish in 30 starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway and his 10th top-10 finish in the past 11 Sprint Cup races at the 1.5-mile oval.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished fifth to score his 10th top-five of 2015 and his seventh top-five in 31 career Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 19th to earn her 11th top-20 this season.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 26th.
Logano won the Bank of America 500 to score his 12th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Charlotte.
Harvick finished .703 of a second behind Logano in the runner-up spot, while Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Busch rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Austin Dillon, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 44 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 334-lap race.
As the fourth race in the 10-race Chase, Charlotte served as the first race in the Contender Round. The original, 16-driver Chase field was whittled down to 12 following last weekend’s race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Two more races will be run, with the next cutoff coming after the Oct. 25 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, whereupon the Chase field shrinks to eight for the Eliminator Round. Another three races will be run in that round, where after the Nov. 15 race at Phoenix International Raceway, only four drivers will advance to the final, winner-take-all Championship Round Nov. 22 in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Harvick and Busch continue to represent SHR in this year’s Chase. Harvick leaves Charlotte second in points, six behind Chase leader Logano. Busch leaves Charlotte in fifth, nine points out of first.
The current Chase standings before next weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas are as follows:
1. Joey Logano (3,048 points)
2. Kevin Harvick (3,042 points, -6)
3. Martin Truex Jr. (3,041 points, -7)
4. Denny Hamlin (3,040 points, -8)
5. Kurt Busch (3,039 points, -9)
6. Carl Edwards (3,039 points, -9)
7. Jeff Gordon (3,037 points, -11)
8. Brad Keselowski (3,035 points, -13)
9. Ryan Newman (3,029 points, -19)
10. Kyle Busch (3,025 points, -23)
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (3,016 points, -32)
12. Matt Kenseth (3,003 points, -45)
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Oct. 18 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas. The race starts at 2:15 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC.