Kevin Harvick overcomes handling issues to continue impressive record
Following his runner-up finish in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick had a pretty succinct description of the performance of his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
"We never were able to get the balance right on our car all weekend and just never really got comfortable in the car but kept grinding away, and it got better throughout the day today, and that’s a good thing on race day," said Harvick.
Indeed, it is. Especially this time of year, with the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in full swing. And the fact that the powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing team saw drivers Matt Kenseth (42nd) and Kyle Busch (20th) have subpar finishes at Charlotte helped, too.
"We made a really good day out of it," Harvick said. "Obviously you want to win, but with so many guys having trouble you want to capitalize on a top-five run, too. It was definitely one of those days that could have been better but could have been a whole lot worse.
And even on a day when he didn’t like the balance of his car, Harvick was able to add to his already impressive record.
The runner-up finish at Charlotte was Harvick’s 11th of the season and his 14th top-2 finish of the year. In 66 races since joining Stewart-Haas prior to the start of the 2014 season, Harvick has eight race victories, 17 runner-up finishes 34 top fives and 44 top 10s, plus the 2014 Sprint Cup championship. In nearly two full seasons with SHR, Harvick has finished first or second in a staggering 39 percent of the races he has run.
And since 2000, the only other two drivers to earn at last 20 top-five finishes in a season are Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who have 10 Sprint Cup titles between them. That’s pretty darn good company to keep.
So, on the whole, it was a successful outing for Harvick, crew chief Rodney Childers and the SHR team.
"All in all, we weren’t very good all weekend," said Harvick. "And the guys just did a great job on pit road and made our car better throughout the day and were able to make our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet better as we went on. So, I’m just really proud of that. And if those are the off-days, we’ll be just fine."
The competition, on the other hand, might wind being considerably less fine by the time the season wraps up next month at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where last year Harvick won both the final race of the year and the series championship.