Race 7 of 33: Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 0.533-mile oval / 300 laps
Weather: Partly cloudy; 76 deg.
Race Winner: Joey Logano
Harvick’s finish: 7th
Kevin Harvick raced his way to a seventh-place finish in Saturday’s Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. With the solid result, the driver of the No. 88 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet scored his 29th consecutive top-10 finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS).
Harvick qualified sixth and quickly starting moving up through the field. He was running second by lap 41 and keeping pace with leader and polesitter Joey Logano. During the early going, Harvick reported that his Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy was good in the preferred top line, but tight in the center of the corners in the bottom groove, which was where he needed to drive to pass lapped traffic.
Crew chief Dave Elenz made a series of productive adjustments to the No. 88 and Harvick was easily maintaining his second-place run until he received a pit-road speeding penalty on lap 174 after a four-tire stop. He was required to go to the rear of the field for the restart, but another quick caution allowed the team to change tires, replacing the final set of sticker tires with scuffs and saving the new tires for the end of the race. After the stops, the two-time NXS champion went to work, driving up to fifth before the final caution on lap 281. On a strategy call, Elenz opted to put the fresher set of tires on the No. 88. Harvick restarted seventh, but wasn’t able to gain any ground over the final 13 laps.
Harvick was able to maintain the No. 88 team’s second-place position in the NXS owner standings. Logano led every lap of the event en route to his second NXS victory of 2015 with Daniel Suarez, Chris Buescher, Erik Jones and Ty Dillon rounding out the top five.
Dave Elenz, crew chief No. 88 Hunt Brothers Pizza team
“We had a very fast Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy today. We raced with the 22 in the early part of the race and we were making the car a little bit better, trying to get it better on the bottom and a little better in traffic for him (Harvick). I thought we were going the right direction on all that and unfortunately, we had the speeding penalty with 130 laps to go, which at that point was going to be hard to recover from to get the win. We tried playing a little bit of strategy that didn’t really work out the way we needed it to at the end. He drove an awesome race and we had a fast car, so we’ll come back and do it again.”