Race 4 of 33: Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Track Specs: .533-mile concrete oval
Weather: Sunny, 60 degrees
Race Winner: Kyle Busch
Harvick’s Finish: 3rd
Kevin Harvick recorded his 15th top-five finish in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition at Bristol Motor Speedway with a third-place run in Saturday’s Drive to Stop Diabetes 300. For Harvick, this marks two top-three finishes in as many starts for JR Motorsports this season.
Harvick advanced forward from the race’s outset working from his sixth-place starting position all the way to second by the race’s first pit stop under caution at lap 95. Although keeping his No. 5 Armour Vienna Sausages Chevrolet amongst the top four throughout the event appeared easy, Harvick and crew chief Ernie Cope spent the afternoon searching for a remedy to a tight handling condition that challenged the team all weekend.
After pitting from the fourth-position during a lap-214 caution, Harvick immediately jumped to second on the restart as the outside lane proved to be successful on restarts, but subsequently dropped to fourth again as the tight condition became prevalent again.
With laps dwindling away, the car’s handling began transitioning to Harvick’s favor, allowing him to begin a late assault on the front three cars. Restarting fourth with only 31 laps to go, Harvick again charged to second. This time, though, Harvick did not drop back and began closing on leader, and eventual winner, Kyle Busch.
Busch’s No. 54 car was able to manipulate slower lap traffic better than Harvick’s No. 5 until another caution slowed the field again at lap 287. Harvick took the ensuing restart second, in the unfavorable inside line, and was forced to battle with Kyle Larson in the waning laps.
Busch cruised to the victory, his second on the season, followed by Larson, Harvick, Ryan Blaney and Matt Kenseth.
Through four races, the No. 5 team ranks fourth in Nationwide Series Owners Points, trailing the No. 54 team by 22 points.
Kevin Harvick, driver No. 5 Armour Vienna Sausages team
“I felt like, at the end, we had our car where it needed to be. That last yellow put us on the inside and then we were fending for our position there. I thought when the 42 (Kyle Larson) slowed up, I think I passed the 14th or 15th 51 car (Jeremy Clements) that I’d seen on the track for the day. Lap traffic was not very much fun. It was fun to go through but you never knew where they were going to go. It was interesting on that side, but my guys did a great job and I feel like we’ve started with some good races here in the beginning with the JR Motorsports guys and feel like we’re just getting started and have a lot of room to improve.”