Jimmy John’s Driver Battled High Winds and Illness To Finish Seventh
Date: March 6, 2016
Event: Kobalt 400 (Round 3 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 6th/7th (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd with 108 points
Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), led the way for SHR on Sunday by delivering a seventh-place performance at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Harvick earned his third consecutive top-10 finish to open the 2016 season.
The 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion battled flu-like symptoms throughout the weekend and strong gusting winds on race day, but he delivered a gutsy performance by scoring his seventh top-10 in 16 career Sprint Cup Series starts at Las Vegas.
Harvick started sixth and raced to the lead by lap 83 before coming to pit road for service under green-flag conditions. He continued in the top-five until coming to pit road under caution on lap 217. The No. 4 team performed a two-tire stop, while three other cars stayed out, forcing Harvick to restart seventh on lap 224.
The Bakersfield, California, native narrowly avoided a multicar wreck laps later as the No. 20 car got loose in front of him and triggered a chain-reaction that collected four other cars.
Harvick restarted ninth on lap 233 and gained two positions over the final 34 laps to cross the finish line in the seventh position.
“We had a good Jimmy John’s Chevrolet overall,” said crew chief Rodney Childers, who led the No. 4 to victory lane in the Kobalt 400 in March 2015. “Everybody did a good job most of the day. We had a bad pit stop and got us behind and then kind of turned our whole day around from there. Everybody did a good job. We couldn’t come close to making it on fuel there at the end like the No. 2 and No. 22, so we didn’t have any option but to come down and top it off again and put tires on it. We’ve just got to get better. We have given them away the past two weeks and just have to do a better job.”
Harvick led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday at Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started first and finished ninth after leading 31 laps. It was his fourth top-10 in 15 career Sprint Cup starts at Las Vegas. It was also his 225th top-10 in 543 career Sprint Cup starts.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 21st. It was Patrick’s 121st career Sprint Cup start and her fourth at Las Vegas.
Brian Vickers, interim driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, started 19th and finished 36th.
Brad Keselowski won the Kobalt 400 to score his 18th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second at Las Vegas.
Joey Logano finished .675 of a second behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five. Ryan Blaney, Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 36 laps, with three drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.
With round three of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is third with 108 points, seven behind first-place Kyle Busch. Kurt Busch is fifth with 103 points, 12 out of first. Patrick is 26th with 47 points, 68 out of first. Vickers is 36th with 20 points, 95 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Good Sam 500k on Sunday, March 13, at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.