By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
Not even halfway through the opening race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and two drivers contending for the championship will leave Las Vegas with Lady Luck not on their side.
On lap 147 in Sunday’s South Point 400, Kevin Harvick, who entered the day as the co-points leader suffered a blown tire in Turn 1 sending him hard into the outside wall and collecting fellow playoff driver Erik Jones in the process.
The crash would relegate Harvick and Jones to 37th and 38th, virtually erasing Harvick’s points advantage and putting Jones in a hole that he will have to climb out of over the next two weeks.
Needless to say, Harvick was not happy about the incident, placing the blame squarely at Goodyear’s feet.
“There was something wrong from the time we put the tires on,” said Harvick. “It was like Russian roulette every time you put these piece of crap tires on and try to drive around the race track. One time it is tight, one time it is loose, one time they are blistered. We had a great car and then you put a set of tires on it and you can’t hardly make it through the field. I just hate it for everyone on our Mobil 1 Ford.”
Jones took the more diplomatic approach in describing his early exit.
“It’s just unfortunate – we didn’t have the best-handling DeWalt Camry today and thought we were going to end up okay,” said Jones. “We were going to finish top-10 no matter what. It’s unfortunate we had that happen, nothing Kevin (Harvick) could do and nothing I could do unfortunately.
“Not the situation we needed to be in, we didn’t have any bonus points and we’ve got some work to do now. I don’t think we have to win, but we definitely need to run really well here at Richmond and the Roval so we’ll keep at it.”
Harvick and Jones weren’t the only drivers to have tire issues on the day. Kyle Larson suffered a blown tire in Stage 1, but luckily the inner liner held together long enough for him to be able to limp his car back to pit road and return to the race.