For Kevin Harvick, Pocono Raceway has been one of only three tracks that he has yet to win at in his 17-year career in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. After finishing second in the first race of the year at the 2.5-mile track in June, Harvick came into Sunday’s Overton’s 400 looking to improve one position and cross Pocono off of his list.
However, a Pocono win will have to wait until next season as the No. 4 team finished as the runner-up to Kyle Busch, finishing second at the track for the third time in his career.
“Guys on the Mobil 1 Ford did a great job,” said Harvick. “Kyle (Busch) had the class of the field all weekend. His car was really, really fast. He got the pole. Got the win. Pretty much just charged through the field. We definitely have a little bit of work to do. I feel like we got closer and closer. I feel like we raced around all the Toyotas all day. Just proud of everyone on the Mobil 1 Ford.”
“I wish I could explain to everybody how big the workload has been switching to Ford and doing all the things we’ve done and trying to race and progress at the same time. They’ve done a really good job. Luckily we have great people to help that progression. It covers up a lot of things that is going on. We keep getting better. I know we’ll get better as we go into the playoffs. Just keep battling, that’s all you can do.”
Starting the day in sixth place, Harvick held steady in the top-10 throughout the first 50 laps, finishing Stage 1 in fourth place. Electing to play the pit strategy game prior to the end of Stage 2, a top-10 finish wasn’t in the cards for him when the second green-checkered flag flew at lap 100.
When the final stage began, Harvick and the others that pitted before the end of Stage 2 cycled back to the front of the field and he remained there as the laps wound down in the race. After making his final green flag pit stop, Harvick was still amongst the leaders when pit stops cycled through and he was able to grab the lead momentarily from Denny Hamlin on lap 144.
Though Harvick had driven to the lead, Kyle Busch, who had dominated the day, was slicing his way through traffic behind him and was right on Harvick’s bumper as they went through Turn 3. As Harvick battled a loose car through that turn, he lost some momentum, allowing Busch to make contact with his car and drive past him to take over the lead.
“The only chance the I had (to keep the 18 behind me) was to get into the corner correctly. I got in there and was loose all the way through the corner on entry and just kept holding the brake down, holding the brake down, holding the brake down and finally, I’m sure he thought I was going to go and I didn’t accelerate. I was trying to stay on the bottom to park the thing to get going and he had a good run.”
Over the last 16 laps, Busch got smaller and smaller in Harvick’s windshield, eventually establishing a 6.178 second margin of victory at the finish.
With the second-place finish on Sunday, Harvick remains third in points, with one win, eight top-five finishes, 14 top-10 finishes, and an average finish of 11.2 through the first 21 races of the season.