Race 7 of 33: VFW Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway
Track Specs: 1.366-mile oval / 147 laps
Weather: Clear, 70 degrees
Race Winner: Chase Elliott
Harvick’s Finish: 7th
Kevin Harvick took home a seventh-place finish in Friday night’s VFW Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway to record his fifth top-10 finish in as many starts this season. The finish keeps the No. 5 team fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series owners standings.
Starting fourth, Harvick settled into the top-five early, running a methodical race as he crept towards the lead. After restarting second at lap 24, Harvick pounced on leader Kyle Busch to grab the lead. His time out front was short-lived as Busch, and Harvick’s JRM teammate Chase Elliott, shuffled the No. 5 to third. As laps clicked off, Harvick solidified a JRM one-two effort through the race’s middle stages.
Unbelievably fast pit stops by Harvick’s Armour Vienna Sausages team gained or maintained his track position throughout the night. Under a lap-59 caution, Harvick entered second and left as the leader. Elliott once again overtook Harvick on the restart as the driver of the No. 5 radioed his team that he was having trouble with spinning the tires on restarts and being able to hang with the leaders.
A flurry of caution flags saw Harvick slip to as low as sixth before a lengthy green run allowed him to begin gaining once again. Harvick bypassed Kyle Larson with 15 laps remaining and settled into fourth as laps dwindled away. When Larson made contact with the Tanner Berryhill’s car to bring out the race’s final caution at lap 141, crew chief Ernie Cope called Harvick to pit road for four tires. Despite another blistering-fast pit stop, Harvick left pit road due in large part to Larson and Elliott Sadler electing to take two fresh tires for the final two-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Harvick took the restart fifth with Elliott lined up sixth. Elliott made an impressive charge to take the victory while Harvick was left with a seventh-place finish. Sadler, Matt Kenseth, Busch and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five.
Kevin Harvick, driver No. 5 Armour Vienna Sausages team
“Our Armour Chevy wasn’t very good on restarts all night so that last one really hurt us. We adjusted on it a lot throughout the race but could never really get going like we needed to. After about five laps, we were one of the best cars on the track though. Great job by everyone at JR Motorsports with Chase getting another win and all three cars were fast again. That kid is something special.”