Harvick’s Strong Run Derailed at Martinsville

Post-Race Reports | NASCAR Cup Series | 10/26/14

Outback Steakhouse Driver Finishes 33rd After Lap-228 Incident

Date: Oct. 26, 2014

Event: Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 (Round 33 of 36)

Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)

Start/Finish: 33rd/33rd (Running, Completed 457 of 500 laps)

Point Standing: 8th (4,011 points, 33 out of first)   

Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Kevin Harvick appeared to be on his way to a top-five finish in Sunday afternoon’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, but his solid run was derailed when he was involved in an on-track incident on lap 228.

The driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) started in the 33rd position and methodically raced his way to the sixth position just before the halfway point of Sunday’s event. However, his efforts were halted on lap 228, when Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 car made contact with the rear fender of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet, causing it to spin into the outside retaining wall in turn one. The incident resulted in heavy damage to the No. 4 Chevrolet.

The Outback Steakhouse crew pushed the No. 4 car behind the pit wall and into the garage stall for repairs. After the crew spent 41 laps making extensive repairs to the racecar, Harvick returned to the racetrack on lap 270 in the 40th position.

Harvick finished the race in the still heavily damaged No. 4 Chevrolet and even managed to advance from 40th to the 33rd position by the checkered flag.

“The good thing about this (Chase for the Sprint Cup) format is you have two more weeks and two racetracks that we can win on,” Harvick said after the race. “Everybody was so worried about us starting in the back – and we wrecked at the front. Unfortunate.”

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday at Martinsville by finishing fourth in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Stewart started fourth and led twice for a total of 18 laps to bring his laps-led total at Martinsville to 1,226, third-most among all active Sprint Cup drivers. It was his third top-five and seventh top-10 of 2014 and his 11th top-five and 17th top-10 in 31 career Sprint Cup starts at the .526-mile oval.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 34th after getting caught up in a multicar accident on lap 437 that severely damaged her right-front suspension.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 36th after a ruptured oil line on lap 424 sent him to the garage area. Repairs were made and Busch returned to the racetrack, albeit 62 laps down. Prior to that, Busch led laps 314 through 344 and was a mainstay among the top-10.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 to score his 23rd career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Martinsville.

Jeff Gordon finished .344 of a second behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate in the runner-up spot, while Ryan Newman, Stewart and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, AJ Allmendinger and David Ragan comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 15 caution periods for 105 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.

Harvick is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He is among the eight drivers of the original field of 16 who advanced to the Eliminator Round. Harvick is vying for a spot in the final elimination round, which will be determined following the Nov. 9 race at Phoenix International Raceway. Only the top-four Chase drivers in points leaving Phoenix will be eligible for the Sprint Cup championship, setting up a four-driver, one-race showdown for the title in the season finale Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After Martinsville – the seventh race of the 10-race Chase – Harvick is eighth among the eight Chase drivers, 33 points behind Chase leader Gordon.

With two races remaining before the Chase field is whittled down to four drivers for the title fight at Homestead, the top-eight drivers still competing for the title rank as follows:

1.             Jeff Gordon (4,044 points) +6

2.             Ryan Newman (4,041 points, -3) +1

3.             Joey Logano (4,040 points, -4) -2

4.             Matt Kenseth (4,039 points, -5) +1

5.             Denny Hamlin (4,037 points, -7) -1

6.             Carl Edwards (4,024 points, -20) +/-0

7.             Brad Keselowski (4,013 points, -31) +1

8.             Kevin Harvick (4,011 points, -33) -6

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the eighth race of the Chase – is the AAA Texas 500 on Nov. 2 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race begins at 3 p.m. EST, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a prerace show at 2 p.m.

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