By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Despite briefly being trapped one lap down, Kevin Harvick rebounded to earn a top-five finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
During the second stage of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, Harvick’s No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang was on a different pit sequence than the bulk of the field. His Stewart-Haas Racing crew chief, Rodney Childers, opted for Harvick to stay out under a lap 94 caution for rain. That left Harvick about 20 laps short on fuel to finish the stage.
Shortly after the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series Champion pitted, the caution waved for a spin by Christopher Bell. Harvick took the wave around to get back on the lead lap under the caution. That left him restarting at the tail-end of the field.
Harvick spent much of the remainder of the race clawing his way back through the field at the ‘Magic Mile.’ He made quick work of many of his Chevy Racing competitors. The late-race caution typical of New Hampshire never came. Without that, Harvick continued to run out of time as he climbed through the field.
Harvick spent much of the end of the race battling fellow Ford Performance drivers Joey Logano, Matt DiBenedetto, and teammate Aric Almirola. In the closing laps, he slipped by DiBenedetto for fifth. The battle allowed Logano to gap Harvick, leaving the 44-year-old fifth when the checkered flag waved.
“Kevin did a nice job,” admitted Childers. “We didn’t get the late caution which usually happens here. We screwed up and made a bad decision worrying about tire sets. But we got another top-five and I’m proud of everyone on this Mobil 1 team.”
Prior to getting off sequence to his competitors, Harvick had been running inside the top-five. The points leader finished the first stage in third. He briefly took the lead during the caution for rain, when the No. 4 went off sequence compared to the bulk of the field. Harvick lost the lead to Denny Hamlin shortly after the restart.
Harvick started seventh after the random draw for the starting order.
The fifth-place finish is the 13th top-five for Harvick this season and the 219th of his career.
The fifth-place finish is also the 700th career top-10 for Harvick across NASCAR’s three national divisions. He has 379 in the Cup Series, 259 in the Xfinity Series and 62 top-10s in the Truck Series.
The Bakersfield, Calif. native is locked into the 2020 playoffs via his four victories this season.
Next for the Cup Series is a doubleheader race weekend at Michigan International Speedway on August 8 and 9.