By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
Heading into Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway, Kevin Harvick had the hot hand, having won the three of the first four races on the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule, but for the California native, making it four wins in a row was not to be after an early race incident sunk his chances of winning.
After starting 10th, Harvick quickly began marching his way toward the front of the field, entering into a thrilling side-by-side battle with Kyle Larson, but on lap 39, the two would make contact as Harvick tried to sidedraft Larson’s car down the backstretch. The contact would then send Harvick’s car into the outside wall and then back across the track, where he would narrowly avoid additional contact with the inside wall.
Despite heavy damage to his Ford, Harvick’s crew was able to get the car repaired and back on track before the crash clock expired, but the damage was too much to remain competitive and he would spend the remainder of the race just logging laps, finishing 35th, nine laps down.
“I went down to side draft and he was coming up and we touched, and it just knocked the thing to the right and spun out,” Harvick said. “I don’t know that it’s his fault. I think that’s my fault for coming down the race track right there and trying to side draft and then as we touch it just came back up the race track. I was just trying to get a little too much right there. I knew the stage was coming in. I’ve just got to thank all of my guys. They did a great job on our Busch Beer Ford and it was just my fault back there.
“That was just a dumb mistake on my part, so it wasn’t too much to ask. The race car was there, it was just a mistake.”
Sunday’s finish marks Harvick’s worst finish since last fall at New Hampshire and drops him to eighth in points heading into next week’s race at Martinsville.