LINCOLN, Ala. – Kevin Harvick came inches from winning the YellaWood 500 in his final NASCAR Cup Series season.
In typical Talladega fashion, it came down to smoke and sparks as he and Ryan Blaney crossed the line.
“I just tried to block the lanes,” said Harvick. “I was kind of late blocking (Blaney) there and he got to the outside of us, but it actually worked out OK because (William Byron) was a great pusher, and then it got shuffled again and I had Riley behind me. I thought I was in a really good spot headed down the back straightaway with everything that was happening because I knew I could get off the tri-oval with Riley right on my bumper I was still gonna be OK and then he got spun in the middle of the tri-oval.
“I’ve just got to thank everybody on our Busch Light Ford. They did a great job. It was a great way to end at Talladega. I always want to win, but it is what it is.”
In the final 15 laps, Harvick and Blaney led the outside lane and pulled out ahead of the inside lane constantly. They headed into Turn 3 with four laps to go and instead of continuing to work with Blaney, Harvick switched to the inside lane.
Whether or not it was the deciding factor, it led to the two being side by side at the start-finish line with Blaney nosing ahead by just 0.012 seconds.
“I knew we were in a great spot there with Riley (Herbst) behind us,” Harvick walked through the dash to the checkered flag. “I don’t know where he spun out, but he got spun out and I knew that if he was still there by the time we got to the end of the tri-oval we were gonna be in really good shape and then at that particular point it was just kind of where we were. I tried to put a donut on (Blaney’s) door and slow him down just a little bit, but just a great effort and we came up a little short.”
It was Harvick’s last superspeedway race where he holds three wins of his 60 career total. With five races left in his full-time career, he reflected a bit on his superspeedway career which includes an iconic Daytona 500 from 2007.
“Talladega has been so up-and-down through the years. We’ve had some great moments and some bad moments. The last superspeedway race and we went out with everything rolling, so that’s a good thing.”
One could only imagine if this was his walk-off win in his farewell season.
“They might have torn it down.”
UPDATE: NASCAR officials have disqualified the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing for windshield fasteners not secured (Rule 14.1.E, 14.1.P, 184.108.40.206.F). Harvick will now be credited with a last place finish as well as lose his Stage 2 points.