Harvick Scores His First Top-10 Charlotte Finish Since 2003
Race/Date: NASCAR Banking 500 / October 16, 2010
Location: Charlotte Motor Speedway / Concord, N.C.
Start Position: 24th
Finish Position: 8th
Points Position: Third (maintained position, 77 points behind the leader)
Kevin Harvick and the No.29 Shell-Pennzoil team scored an eighth-place finish on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway and maintained their position of third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. Harvick now trails the leader, Jimmie Johnson, by 77 points with five races remaining in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The effort was the team’s 21st top-10 finish of the year, three more than any other NSCS competitor. Additionally, it was Harvick’s first top-10 finish in a points-paying race at Charlotte since October 2003.
On Thursday at CMS, the Gil Martin-led team worked on race trim for the first half of the day’s 90-minute practice session before switching over to qualifying trim. The team was satisfied with their car, and after switching over to qualifying trim, the No. 29 team was 21st on the sheet. In qualifying later Thursday evening, Harvick ran a lap of 189.520 mph, good enough for 24th for Saturday night’s 334-lap affair.
Friday’s dual practice sessions gave the No. 29 team the opportunity to fine-tune their Chevrolet, and Harvick was 20th and 22nd, respectively, in the two sessions, and the team was confident they were prepared for race number five in the Chase.
A crowd of 103,000 NASCAR fans came to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, and Harvick took the green flag from his 24th-starting slot. The Bakersfield, Calif., native battled with a loose race car in the opening stages of the 500-mile event, and he was scored 22nd on lap 23 when the No. 2 car spun and brought out a caution. Martin and the Shell-Pennzoil team changed right-side tires with an air pressure adjustment, added fuel and gave Harvick a chassis adjustment. The 14-time NSCS winner left pit road in 13th.
The red and yellow machine reacted positively to the changes, and Harvick powered his way inside the top 10 on lap 31, and entered the top five just seven laps later. As the run progressed, the loose condition reared its head again, and a series of green-flag pit stops started on lap 71. Martin instructed Harvick to pit on lap 74, and the Richard Childress Racing team made adjustments and added fresh tires and fuel, and Harvick was scored ninth after the round of pit stops.
For the remainder of the evening, Harvick continued to battle the 1.5-mile track. Known as his least favorite among all NSCS venues, he raced between the sixth and 12th positions for the rest of the night, and brought the No. 29 machine home in eighth.
Jamie McMurray, with his Earnhardt-Childress Racing-powered Chevrolet, won the race, and he was chased to the checkered flag by Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle. Harvick’s RCR teammates, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton, finished 17th and 20th, respectively.
Johnson remains the NSCS point-leader, while Hamlin remains second, 41 points behind. Harvick is third, 77 points behind Johnson and 36 back of Hamlin.
Next week is the sixth race of the 10-week Chase, and the teams will battle it out in the Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, October 24th. The race will be televised live on ESPN at 1 p.m. EDT, and will be broadcast worldwide on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius-XM Satellite Radio. Qualifying for the 32nd race on the NSCS tour will be Friday at 3 pm EDT, and will be televised live on ESPN2.
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:
“I'm really happy. Everybody knows that Charlotte has been a struggle for me. Our goal was to come in here and get a single-digit finish, and we did that. The Shell-Pennzoil guys fought all night. I screamed and complained, and the pit crew had a bad stop on the first one, then they were great the rest of the night. Hopefully that is something we can build on going forward. To get out of here with that finish tonight, we're really happy. I know we probably had a better race car than eighth place tonight. For me, this place is just a struggle. I struggle getting the feel that I want. To come out of here with an eighth-place finish feels like a victory."