Sometimes in Las Vegas, the house wins and you bust.
That was the situation for Stewart-Haas Racing during Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Danica Patrick led the group with a 21st place finish, while Kurt Busch was 26th, Tony Stewart was 33rd and Kevin Harvick finished 41st. None of the four cars finished on the lead lap.
For much of the afternoon, Harvick looked to be a major contender for the win, leading twice for a total of 23 laps. However, on lap 194, Harvick slowed when the left front hub locked up and forced the team to the garage for repairs.
"It’s hard to complain," Harvick said. "These guys on this Jimmy John’s Chevrolet have given me cars that are good every week. Just a little parts failure there and just we will figure out the cause of it and try to just keep that from happening. Every week is a new notebook for us. I really think as we get established and get some foundation for our set-ups and just the little things this team is going to be dangerous."
Perhaps most surprising of all, Stewart struggled from the drop of the green flag. Stewart was saved from going a lap down thanks to the second caution of the day on Lap 46, but that did not last long.
At the end of the day, the No. 14 Chevy was four laps down to race winner Brad Keselowski.
While Harvick has been the highlight of the SHR organization so far this season, the other three cars have struggled mightily over the first three weeks of the season.
Stewart has two finishes of 33rd or worse, while Busch and Danica both have a best finish of 21st. Aside from Harvick, Stewart is the highest in the standings in 27th.
"Obviously you always want more, but I’m happy with (the finish), especially after what we’ve gone through the last two weeks," Patrick said. "It’s a good day and gives us something to build on going to Bristol."
Going into the 2014 season, many questioned how well the four personalities would get along at SHR. Yet after three races, the larger question may be can the competition department get things turned around before it’s too late.