By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – A right front tire failure will keep Kevin Harvick from scoring three-straight points paying victories for the second time this season. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver was running inside the top-five in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway at the time.
This is the first time that Harvick has failed to finish the prestigious race in his 18-year career. It was also the first time that he has finished last in a race across all three of NASCAR’s National Series.
Harvick’s No. 4 Mobil 1 / Busch Beer Ford Fusion slammed the outside wall in turn four on lap 83. He had been chasing down the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 of Kyle Larson at the time and was running lower on the racetrack than he had throughout the previous runs in the race. The blowout was sudden, and the damage was severe as the 2014 Premier Series Champion drove straight to the garage.
“We stood in the garage and looked at it and I can’t tell if we ran something over,” Harvick explained. “There’s enough things that could have happened right there, but I’m just really proud of everybody on our Mobil 1/Busch Ford. The car was really, really fast. We came all the way through the pack and made it up into the top three there and sometimes those things happen.
“I can’t complain about anything that’s happened this year. We have to take the good with the bad. The guys did a great job in basically guessing at where the car needed to be today with all the penalties, no practice and starting in the back. To come out and have the fastest car again was quite an honor to drive and they’re doing a great job. It was just bad luck.”
Harvick had been making quick progress up through the field after starting 39th, cracking the top-20 after just 12 laps. However, it took another 67 laps for 42-year-old driver to move inside the top-five.
With the quick move toward the front of the field, Harvick seemed poised to contend for the lead.
“Traffic was pretty tough. Getting through traffic you had to really pick-and-choose your lanes, but our car could go in multiple lanes and we were able to really make ground the second half of those runs, so it was fun to come up through there.”
Sunday’s crash was a culmination of a troubling weekend for Harvick after his Stewart-Haas Racing team failed pre-qualifying technical inspection three times on Thursday, resulting in car chief Robert ‘Cheddar’ Smith being ejected and a 30-minute practice hold.