Tapped out: Gamble on gas falls short for Harvick, Childers

Kevin Harvick was forced to pit for a splash of gas with three laps remaining in Sunday's Sylvania 300, just so he could finish the race in 21st.

Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images

In desperate need of a win to keep their championship hopes alive, Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers went for broke in Sunday’s second race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But instead of celebrating in Victory Lane, last year’s championship-winning driver and crew chief made an abrupt exit from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, not speaking with reporters seeking answers about the strategy that backfired and could well cost Harvick and Childers a shot at their second consecutive title.

Armed with easily the best car in the 43-car field at New Hampshire, Harvick led 216 of 300 laps but ran out fuel with three laps to go and finished 21st. One of multiple drivers who tried to stretch their final tank of fuel but ran dry near the end, Harvick now finds himself in a virtual must-win situation heading to Dover for next weekend’s final race of the Chase Challenger Round.

Harvick, who arrived at New Hampshire already in points hole after a 42nd-place finish in last weekend’s Chase opener at Chicagoland, remained in 15th place among the 16 Chase drivers but now sits 23 points behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. — the driver currently holding down the final transfer spot.

To be among the 12 drivers who advance to the Chase Contender Round, Harvick will likely need to find a way to win at Dover, a track where he’s come up short in his previous 29 starts.

A tall order it is indeed, but it’s not one that Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas believes is impossible to achieve.

"Well, he did it twice last year," said Haas, referring to Harvick’s wins in last year’s Chase Eliminator Round finale and Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"When we get down, we’ll come back."

Haas blamed Harvick running short on fuel on a simple miscalculation by the team about how far they could stretch the final tank.

"Somewhere we were off in our calculations," he said. "That’s something we’ll be talking about tomorrow and the next couple days real hard."

Although Harvick and Childers left New Hampshire without addressing reporters, both men used Twitter to sound off after Sunday’s race.

Here’s what they had to say: