Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016
Race 31 of 33: O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile quad-oval / 200 laps
Weather: Cloudy; 65 degrees
Race Winner: Kyle Larson
Harvick’s finish: 3rd
In his final NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) race with JR Motorsports, Kevin Harvick captured his 16th top-10 finish in 19 races at Texas Motor Speedway after bringing home a third-place finish in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. The No. 88 JRM Chevrolet remains fifth in the NXS Owner Chase standings, five points behind the leader.
The California native qualified ninth for the 200-lap event on Saturday morning. The bottom lane checked up on the start, which forced Harvick to quickly lose track position at the start of the race. Harvick was back up the sixth by lap 6 and reported that the Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet was too loose when the caution flag was shown on lap 10. The team elected to stay out on track under caution and maintain their track position.
Harvick restarted from the 10th position on lap 13 and was quickly on the move toward the front. The five time NXS winner at TMS was scored in the fourth position by lap 29, but reported that his No. 88 machine was getting looser. Harvick brought the Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet to pit road for a green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment to help tighten up the car.
On lap 63, Harvick radioed to the team that his Chevrolet was better, but told the team he still needed more of that adjustment. When the second caution flag of the day was shown on lap 72, the team visited pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Twenty laps into the next run, the driver reported that his car was tight on the bottom, but good on the top. The team came to pit road under caution on lap 93 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to go back on the previous adjustment.
A spin in Turn 4 brought out the fourth caution of the day on lap 135. The No. 88 team elected to come to pit road under caution for four tires, fuel, a wedge, track bar and air pressure adjustment. Harvick restarted from the third position on lap 142 and was scored in the second position just one lap later. The final caution flag was shown on lap 167 and the Hunt Brothers Pizza driver told the team he needed more of an adjustment. The No. 88 machine came to pit road on lap 168 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Harvick restarted from the third position on lap 171.
Seven laps after taking the green, the driver reported that his Chevrolet was still on the tight side while running third. Harvick crossed the finish line in the third position, capturing his ninth consecutive top-10 finish at Texas.
Kyle Larson brought home the win and was followed by Brad Keselowski, Harvick, Erik Jones, and fifth-place Daniel Suarez.
Dave Elenz, crew chief No. 88 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet team
“We had a good day with our Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet. We were looking for a little more out of our finish, but all in all we performed well and did everything we needed to do. We got a little behind on the track, but overall we are happy with our third-place finish.”