Mobil 1 Driver Scores 13th Top-10 of 2016, Extends Points Lead
Date: June 26, 2016
Event: Save Mart 350k (Round 16 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (10-turn, 1.99-mile road course)
Start/Finish: 25th/6th (Running, completed 110 of 110 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (562 points, 35 points ahead of second)
Winner: Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished sixth in Sunday’s Save Mart 350k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The sixth-place finish marks Harvick’s 13th top-10 finish of the season and seventh top-10 finish in 16 career Sprint Cup starts at Sonoma.
The Sprint Cup Series points leader started 25th and was racing in the 14th position at the start of the first round of green-flag pit stops on lap 20. He stayed on the racetrack as every other car came to pit road and took the lead on lap 28 for three laps before coming to pit road for his scheduled four-tire stop.
The Bakersfield, California, native was scored in the 18th position following the stop, but with fresh Goodyear tires he was able to race his way back into the top-10 by lap 45 and up to the eighth position by the second caution of the day on lap 47.
The 2014 Sprint Cup champion restarted 12th following the caution on lap 50 and raced his way up to the ninth position before the next round of green-flag pit stops on lap 70. He raced to seventh following the green-flag pit cycle and remained there until the final caution of the day on lap 93.
Harvick stayed out under that caution and restarted seventh on lap 97. He gained one position before crossing the finish line in sixth.
“Yeah, I’m just really proud of Tony (Stewart). That is really the best thing,” said Harvick, who recorded his 270th top-10 finish in 554 career Sprint Cup starts. “We didn’t have a lot of good happen today. We fought all day on pit road and got a decent finish out of it. But other than that we had a little bit of a struggle with getting it to turn.”
Stewart, in his No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent at Sonoma by winning the Save Mart 350k. It was the 33rd points-paying Sprint Cup victory for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s third win this season.
Stewart took the lead with 22 laps to go around the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course en route to his 49th career Sprint Cup victory, his third at Sonoma and his first since winning at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on June 2, 2013. This was also Stewart’s eighth Sprint Cup win on a road course, as he has five victories at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Stewart missed the first eight races of the season after injuring his back in a Jan. 31 all-terrain vehicle accident, but NASCAR granted him a medical waiver that made Stewart eligible for the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. To compete for the series championship, Stewart had to win at least one race and secure a position within the top-30 of the championship standings by the 26th race of the season Sept. 10 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. With the victory at Sonoma, Stewart checks one box on his way toward eligibility and seems likely to satisfy the other requirement, as he is only nine points behind 30th-place Brian Scott.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 10th. It was Busch’s 14th top-10 this season and his eighth top-10 in 16 career Sprint Cup starts at Sonoma.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 19th.
Denny Hamlin finished .625 of a second behind Stewart in the runner-up spot, while Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top-five. Harvick, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were four caution periods for 10 laps, with three drivers failing to finish the 110-lap race.
With round 16 of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR and the series in the championship standings. He is first with 562 points, 35 ahead of teammate Busch. This marks the fifth straight week SHR drivers have been 1-2 in the championship standings.
Patrick is 24th with 288 points, 89 ahead of 31st-place Regan Smith. Like Stewart, if Patrick can win a race and finish among the top-30 in points following the 26th race of the season, she will earn a Chase berth. Harvick earned a Chase spot via his win March 13 at Phoenix International Raceway, and Busch secured his position via his win June 6 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday, July 2, at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. NBC will broadcast the race starting at 7 p.m. EDT.
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