@KevinHarvick viewed it simple enough: win. Meaning he had to win either New Hampshire or Dover and his 42nd place finish in the first Chase race would be wiped away.
Sunday, Harvick nearly accomplished the feat. Unfortunately, almost doesn’t count, at least not the points Harvick needs if he wants to advance into the Contender Round of the Chase.
The No. 4 Ditech Chevrolet ran out of fuel – while leading – with three laps remaining in the Sylvania 300, leaving Harvick coasting pit road for a splash of fuel. He would be credited with a 21st place finish after having led 216 of the race’s 300 laps.
Heading into next Sunday’s AA 400 at Dover, Harvick sits 15th on the Chase grid, 23 points behind 12th. Both Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers declined to comment to reporters afterward.
Harvick’s last pit stop came on Lap 212 after he didn’t come down pit road under a later caution, although it appeared his Stewart-Haas Racing team might have wanted him to. Over the radio, the decision was made to pit, but Harvick replied he was told too late and, therefore, didn’t come down pit road. Childers replied the camera he was monitoring at wasn’t in real time.
By staying out, Harvick restarted third with the task of going 88 laps on a tank of fuel. He would take the lead from Greg Biffle on Lap 252 while trying to save fuel, with the team believing he would be about six laps short of making it to the finish. With no additional cautions, Harvick kept one eye on the fuel gauge and the other on the charging Joe Gibbs Racing cars of Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.
Childers did offer, via Twitter, that after looking over the EFI data, Harvick saved “double what we needed.” Meaning, he should have made it to the checkered flag. However, Childers went on to say he believes the team might not have gotten the tank full on their final stop.
A win on Sunday would have automatically locked Harvick into the next round of the 2015 Chase, but now he faces an almost must-win at Dover, where he’s winless in 29 starts and holds an average finish of 14.7. The defending Sprint Cup Series champion finished second at Dover earlier this year.
Things haven’t gone exactly to plan but I promise you one thing “we will not quit” #itaintover
— Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) September 27, 2015
Childers’ post in full read:
Great car all weekend.. To our real fans that actually care.. Not the ones that are jackasses.. Here ya go.. pic.twitter.com/EaIRAUaKNT
— Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) September 27, 2015
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