Harvick ‘Earns It’ in Gritty Bristol Win
Busch Beer Driver Brings Home Second Career Bristol Victory
Date: Aug. 21, 2016
Event: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Round 23 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 24th/1st (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 1st with 762 points, 27 ahead of second
Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet)
Busch Beer’s tagline “Earning It” might be a perfect way to describe Kevin Harvick’s gritty win in Sunday’s rain-postponed and rain-delayed Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) outlasted the field – and several rain delays – in a race that started on Saturday night and ended Sunday evening. In all, Harvick led four times for a total of 128 laps en route to his second win of the season and his second career win at Bristol, which he celebrated with a victory lap and spins alongside Tony Stewart.
“That was pretty cool, doing burnouts with him (SHR co-owner and teammate Stewart),” Harvick said. “I’ve got to thank Busch Beer, Jimmy John’s, Chevrolet and Mobil 1 and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing on this Chevrolet. We should have won a lot of races this year but we just had things not go our way. We made mistakes, or whatever the case may be. But, to get back into Victory Lane here at Bristol feels really good. We’ve had some good cars here over the last few years. And to have Busch Beer on the car; we’ve had crummy luck with these guys on the car, and so I’m just really happy for Busch and Jimmy John’s and really proud of these guys on the No. 4 team.”
After starting a disappointing 24th, Harvick’s No. 4 car steadily moved up through the field at the drop of the green flag, and he sat 16th at lap 48 when the rain forced the race to be stopped for the night. Once the race finally resumed in the 4-o’clock hour on Sunday afternoon, Harvick again began picking off spots, and he quickly jumped into the top-10.
Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers made adjustments to the Busch Beer Chevrolet that brought the No. 4 into the top-five well before the halfway point. In fact, Harvick took his first lead of the race on lap 286 from Kyle Busch, who had been dominant up to that point.
Following pit stops on lap 308, Busch restarted in the lead, but Harvick snuck past him on lap 347. From there, the race was all Harvick, as he led 82 of the final 97 circuits to bring home the victory.
“Well, we knew we had the performance that we needed to have in the cars pretty much every week,” Harvick said. “And it’s been one of those deals where things have just not gone exactly right. But to have the win now and just try to get that momentum before we get into the Chase and get things rolling is really what we needed.”
It was the 34th point-paying NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s fourth this season. It was SHR’s first win at Bristol.
Harvick’s SHR companions – Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet SS; Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet; and Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Chevrolet SS – finished 22nd, 30th and 38th, respectively.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 1.933 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger and Joey Logano comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 106 laps, with four drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.
With round 23 of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR and the series in the championship standings. He is first with 762 points, 27 ahead of second-place Brad Keselowski. Busch is third with 692 points, 70 behind Harvick. Patrick is 23rd with 432 points, 117 ahead of 31st-place David Ragan. Stewart is 27th with 400 points, 85 ahead of 31st.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday, Aug. 28, at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.
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