Of all of the tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, one track in particular stands out for the drivers and teams that fly the Chevrolet flag and that is Kentucky Speedway. Heading into Saturday night’s race, Chevrolet had not been able to score a win in the first five Cup Series races held at the track and were optimistic that this weekend would be the time that their first win would come.
Heading into the weekend, Chevrolet drivers had scored eight top-five, 22 top-10 finishes, three poles, and 222 laps led in the five races prior to the Quaker State 400, but a win still eluded the Bowtie brigade.
With a new reconfiguration and fresh asphalt greeting the drivers as they rolled into the track, Saturday night looked like it could finally be the night the first win would come, but as the race progressed into a fuel mileage battle, the Chevrolet teams would have to wait another year for that elusive win.
Kevin Harvick looked to be the manufacturer’s best hope for a win at Kentucky after starting on pole and leading 128 laps on the night, but after losing the lead to eventual winner Brad Keselowski with 68 laps to go, Harvick and his team discovered that they couldn’t make it to the end of the race on fuel. Harvick pitted with 16 laps to go with the assumption that no other drivers could make it on fuel, but a handful were able to and Harvick cycled back into the top-10 to come home in ninth.
“Yeah, the event went great. We just had to put left-side tires on there. Couldn’t put right’s on and then the car went away really bad. That was really kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. Everybody did a great job. We kept our track position. I overshot our pit stall one time looking at my pit road speed, we got that back. But, all-in-all it just came down the fuel mileage, we couldn’t make it at the end and some guys could. That is just part of it,” said Harvick.
In the end, Chevrolet’s best finish came courtesy of Ryan Newman, who finished third for his first top-five finish of the season. They also had three other Chevrolets finish in the top-10, with Kurt Busch finishing fourth in a backup car, Tony Stewart finishing fifth, and Jamie McMurray finishing seventh.
“We had a good car. We really struggled, like most people did in dirty air. Track position was definitely key, but I’m proud of these guys on the Caterpillar Chevrolet; all the ECR guys, they obviously did a good job on the fuel mileage to make that happen. I think all us drivers that made it, knew what we were doing, it’s just a matter of it we thought we were as good as we were. And, I could have used this iced cold Coke about 30 laps from the end. I’m just proud of the guys. It’s our first Top-5 of the year, but we’ll keep digging,” said Newman.