Hunt Brothers Pizza Driver Comes from Back To Finish Second
Date: May 16, 2015
Event: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (non-points event)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 20th/2nd (Running, completed 110 of 110 laps)
Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), appeared to have the car to beat late in the running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Saturday night, but Denny Hamlin’s late-race move in the final 10-lap segment denied him a second All-Star win. Harvick, who won the race in 2007, had to settle for his second straight runner-up finish in the 31st annual non-points event.
“I thought we were in a really good spot there at the end with our Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy,” said Harvick, who recorded his fourth top-five finish in 15 career All-Star races. “As soon as Denny (Hamlin) moved up that one time, it kind of took the air off. I had committed to the middle of the corner. Once I got to the middle of the corner the car just washed all the way up the racetrack, and I had to lift way out of the gas to get the car back off the wall. All in all just really proud of everybody on this team; I’ve got to thank Hunt Brothers, Jimmy John’s, Budweiser, Chevrolet, Mobil 1, everybody who is a part of this program, DiTech and Outback for everything that they do.”
Harvick started 20th out of 20 cars after being penalized when he slid through his pit stall and his pit crew came over the wall too early during qualifying for the annual non-points race, which featured drivers who met one of the following criteria:
The 110-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval was broken up into five segments of 25 laps, 25 laps, 25 laps, 25 laps and 10 laps and featured a 20-driver field.
Harvick started 20th in the 20-car field and raced his way to 10th by the end of the first of the four 25-lap segments. He followed the rest of the leaders to pit road for a routine four-tire stop at the conclusion of the segment and gained two positions while on pit road to start eighth in segment two. Harvick displayed the strength of his Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet throughout the following two segments, working his way through the field to finish sixth in the second segment and second in both the third and fourth segments.
With the field placed under caution after the fourth segment, the running order was set based on drivers’ average finish in the first four segments, so Harvick came to pit road in fourth for the mandatory four-tire pit stop before the fifth and final 10-lap segment. Harvick’s No. 4 team was beat off of pit road by eventual race winner Hamlin and SHR teammate Kurt Busch, placing Harvick in third place for the restart. While he was able to overtake teammate Busch for the second position on the restart and challenged Hamlin for the lead over the closing laps, he was forced to settle for a second-place finish when the checkered flag waved.
Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for SHR, finished third after leading twice for 24 laps. It was Busch’s sixth top-five in 15 career All-Star Races.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Arctic Cat Chevrolet SS for SHR, dealt with a tight-handling racecar and finished 19th.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1/Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 20th after suffering a left-front wheel hub failure. Patrick earned her way into the All-Star Race by winning the Sprint Fan Vote.
Hamlin won the All-Star Race to earn his first victory in nine career All-Star Races. His previous best finish was a pair of fourth-place results in 2009 and 2010.
Harvick finished .923 of a second behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Busch, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five. Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to points-paying racing on Sunday, May 24 with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. The longest race on the Sprint Cup schedule gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning at 5:30 p.m.