ditech Home Loans Driver Reclaims Sprint Cup Point Lead with Top-10 Finish
Date: April 17, 2016
Event: Food City 500 (Round 8 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 7th/7th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 1st with 287 points
Winner: Carl Edwards of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 ditech Home Loans Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), ran in the top-five the majority of the afternoon until the final restart forced him to finish seventh in Sunday’s Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
The 2014 Sprint Cup Series Champion started seventh and raced his way into the top-five shortly after the green flag waved. He raced his way to the second position by the race’s halfway point. Harvick took the lead on lap 319 and held it until coming to pit road under caution on lap 331.
The Bakersfield, California, native continued to race in the top-five and looked strongest on the longer green-flag runs, but after each caution he restarted in the bottom lane instead of the preferred top lane.
Harvick was racing in the third position when the caution flag flew on lap 486 and was forced to restart in the bottom lane on lap 491. He fell two positions as he tried to move up to the outside lane, but another caution immediately followed on lap 493. Following the brief caution period, Harvick restarted fifth with five laps remaining and dropped another two positions as he raced in the bottom lane in the closing laps to cross the finish line in the seventh position.
The top-10 finish was Harvick’s seventh of 2016, his 14th top-10 in 31 Sprint Cup starts at Bristol and his 264th career top-10 in 546 Sprint Cup starts. Harvick also led once for 13 laps to bring his season total to 499 laps led in 2016.
“Yeah, (starting on the inside) was definitely the biggest challenge for us,” said Harvick, who won the Sprint Cup race at Bristol in April 2005. “The guys did a great job with our ditech Chevy. We had the speed, but it seemed like every restart we were just struggling to make ground on the restart. By the time you get to two or three spots back, you battle back to where you were and then the caution would come out again. But there’s nothing you can do about that. We raced hard all day and we’ll go to the next one.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday.
Busch’s third-place finish secured his ninth top-five and 16th top-10 in 31 career Sprint Cup starts at Bristol. It was also his 118th top-five and 228th top-10 in 548 career Sprint Cup starts.
Ty Dillon, interim driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS for SHR as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, started 34th and finished 25th.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 27th. It was Patrick’s 126th career Sprint Cup start and her eighth at Bristol.
Carl Edwards won the Food City 500 to score his 26th career Sprint Cup victory, his first this season and his fourth at Bristol.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished .766 of a second behind Edwards while Busch, Chase Elliott and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top-five. Matt DiBenedetto, Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 15 caution periods for 102 laps with four drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race around the .533-mile oval.
With round eight of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is the new points leader with 287 points, one point ahead of second-place Edwards. Busch is seventh with 247 points, 40 points out of first. Patrick is 25th with 131 points, 156 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Richmond 400 on Sunday, April 24, at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.