JR Motorsports Race Report
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Race 18 of 33: Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile oval / 100 laps
Weather: Partly cloudy; 87 deg.
Race Winner: Kyle Busch
Harvick’s finish: 6th
Kevin Harvick and the No. 88 Morton Buildings team rallied to finish sixth in Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After fighting an ill-handling car in practice and qualifying, the driver and team kept working until they had all but solved the issues that had plagued the Morton Buildings Chevrolet Camaro.
Harvick and crew chief Dave Elenz made several key pit calls during the 100-lap event. After starting 16th and battling a tight condition and front-tire chatter in the opening laps, the team had some ground to make up, but an early caution allowed the veteran driver to bring his Chevy to pit road for adjustments on lap 14. Elenz called for major changes during the four-tire pit stop and Harvick rejoined the field in the 14th position. After a few more circuits of the 2.5-mile oval, the two-time NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) champion reported that the race car was handling better in the rear, but still chattering the front tires.
The caution flag was shown again on lap 23 with Harvick running 12th, allowing the Morton Buildings crew another opportunity to make adjustments. On the second stop, Elenz and the team took another huge swing at the car, taking extra time on pit road to take rounds out of both front springs, effectively lowering the front end of the Camaro. Harvick came back in just before the restart so that the pit crew could top off the No. 88 with fuel to get a few extra miles out of the Chevrolet in the event of a long green-flag run.
Harvick restarted 30th but moved into the top 15 just seven laps later through a combination of on-track passes and other competitors coming to pit road for scheduled stops. By lap 43, he had fought his way into the top 10, reporting that the back end of the race car was getting loose while the front end felt tight on corner exit, but was much improved from the beginning of the race. The run continued with Harvick moving up to the eighth position before making a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 63. He rejoined the field in 13th and moved all the way up to seventh by the time the third and final caution came out on lap 70. After some discussion, Harvick and Elenz decided that they had an opportunity to gain more ground by pitting for four fresh Goodyear tires under the caution. Harvick was 10th for the final restart on lap 75, and he steadily advanced his position to sixth before the checkered flag, earning his sixth top-10 finish in eight NXS starts this season.
Kyle Busch earned his second NXS victory of the year, and was followed to the stripe by Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, Paul Menard and Elliott Sadler.
Kevin Harvick, driver No. 88 Morton Buildings team
“We were just trying to fix the handling all day on our Morton Buildings Chevy. We made it a lot better. We were a little loose at some points and tight off the corners there at the end. We fought hard all race long and I appreciate the effort everybody on this team put in today.”