Kevin Harvick tried to find 'safe spot' in NASCAR Phoenix chaos

Kevin Harvick said he tried to find a "safe spot" in the Phoenix NASCAR Cup race while attempting to salvage his championship bid in a damaged car

Kevin Harvick tried to find 'safe spot' in NASCAR Phoenix chaos

Harvick lost his guaranteed place in the four-way title shootout when his win at Texas the previous week was declared 'encumbered' due to a rear spoiler violation.

The points penalty for that offence put him back to fourth in the standings with just a three-point cushion over Kurt Busch behind.

He then took pole at Phoenix and dominated the first 73 laps before his right-rear tyre deflated just as stage one was ending.

As most of the outside contenders for 'championship four' spots got involved in late-race crashes, Harvick moved back up to fifth place and cemented his title shootout place despite his Stewart-Haas Ford carrying damage from the puncture.

"It never really drove as well after that, but we kept ourselves in position all day," he said.

"At the end, with everybody wrecking and all over the place, we just needed to stay out of trouble and try to find a safe spot there."

He believes the timing of the tyre problem was relatively fortunate.

"I felt it start to go down going into Turn 1 and just slowed down to the point where I thought I could at least make it back to the pits and not hit the wall," Harvick said.

"It came at an OK time because it didn't tear the car up.

"In that instance you just hope that the sway bar [anti-rollbar] stays connected, and that's really the biggest worry.

"I hadn't looked under the car and seen how bad it dragged it all off, but it was good enough to keep going, and the sway bar was still hooked up, so that was the main thing."

The main threat to Harvick's championship decider place was the possibility of his SHR team-mate Aric Almirola winning.

But despite being up to second behind eventual winner Kyle Busch by a late restart, Almirola ended up fourth.

"I fought my guts out inside the racecar and gave it everything we had," said Almirola.

"We took a seventh or eighth-place car and the next thing you know we were in position to win the race.

"What we've accomplished in one year is a hell of a lot, but right now all I can think about is being inside of Kyle down there and just not being able to get the power down to get up beside him.

"It's bittersweet. It was a good day for us, but we needed to win and we didn't win."

Harvick is having to complete the season with stand-in crew and car chiefs because regular personnel Rodney Childers and Robert Smith were suspended as part of the team's punishment for the Texas infraction.

He said substitutes Tony Gibson and Nick DeFazio "did a great job filling in and everybody kept their head about them".

shares
comments
Kurt Busch and Elliott blame themselves for NASCAR title-race exits

Previous article

Kurt Busch and Elliott blame themselves for NASCAR title-race exits

Next article

NASCAR legend David Pearson dies at age of 83

NASCAR legend David Pearson dies at age of 83
Load comments
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Plus

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup Series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Plus

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Plus

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organisation - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR
Aug 31, 2021
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

NASCAR
Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

NASCAR
Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

NASCAR
Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

NASCAR
Feb 12, 2021
How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career Plus

How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a shot at redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith

NASCAR
Feb 11, 2021