Event: Ford EcoBoost 400 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 12th/3rd (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd with 5,034 points
Champion: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Race Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Kevin Harvick started 12th and finished first.
● The Jimmy John’s Ford entered the top-five by lap 21 and was up to third by lap 33.
● Harvick reported that his Ford had good balance but lacked rear grip through the majority of the stage.
● The Jimmy John’s team made a scheduled, green-flag stop on lap 38 for four tires, fuel and adjustments and came out as the leader among the Championship 4.
● The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion took the race lead on lap 43 and kept it to capture his 19th stage win of the 2018 season.
● At the conclusion of Stage 1, the Jimmy John’s Ford came down pit road for four tires, fuel, tape, and air pressure adjustments.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Harvick started first and finished second.
● The Freaky Fast crew started from the lead but dropped to third on the ensuing restart.
● Harvick regained the lead shortly after lap 105, but he pitted from the lead on lap 120 for four tires, fuel, and adjustments.
● By lap 123, Harvick had worked his way up to second and was the top Championship 4 contender.
● The caution flag came out on lap 140, and Harvick reported a loose-handling condition as he pitted from the second spot.
● The Jimmy John’s driver regained the lead on lap 147, but he relinquished the top spot on the final lap of Stage 2 to Kyle Larson.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):
● Harvick started second and finished third.
● The Bakersfield, California, native took the lead on the first lap of the final stage but quickly dropped to third.
● The Jimmy John’s team serviced its Ford with four tires, fuel and tape during the lap-193 caution period, restarting fourth.
● Harvick gained one position on the restart, taking over the third spot.
● Interim crew chief Tony Gibson called Harvick to pit road for a scheduled pit service on lap 230, beginning the green-flag stop cycle.
● The caution flag was displayed on lap 249 before Harvick had the opportunity to cycle through to the lead, but the Jimmy John’s team pitted from the fourth position and restarted fourth on the following restart.
● Ultimately, Harvick finished the Ford EcoBoost 400 race – and the 2018 season – in the third position.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You led a number of laps tonight. Just take us through your race, please.
“Yeah, we had a daytime racecar. As soon as it got dark we never could get our car tightened up there at the end. They made a great call to put us in position to win the race, and then the caution came out when the 2 car spun the 19 out. We came off pit road fourth, and just our strong point was not the restarts tonight, and we wound up on the wrong side of it.”
It seems like every year this race comes down to that late‑race caution. So as you’re leading what appears is going to be the championship battle there with about 25 to go and knowing that Kyle (Busch) has to pit again, in the back of your mind are you just thinking, “What’s going to happen, what’s going to change this?”
“You know, in the end, not really. I was just driving away and wound up with a restart there and didn’t wind up getting off, going at the beginning. I don’t really think about stuff like that. You just try to hit one lap at a time.”
Kevin, you guys didn’t seem to be that happy with what you had yesterday after practice. What all went into it? When you got in the car and started to race, did you feel there had been a lot of big changes made?
“We didn’t make a lot of big changes, we made a lot of small changes, and the car was definitely better. But like I say, when it got dark, we just lost the rear grip and couldn’t get off the corner and was having trouble turning in the corner. Just the balance was really good until it was dark outside, and we just never could get the rear grip back to where we needed to, and I couldn’t take off. But like I say, they put us in a position to win if the caution didn’t come out, and we had a shot there with, I don’t even know, 18 laps to go when the caution came out. It’s just the way it all shook out. The 22 (of winner Joey Logano) could take off really good.”
● This was Harvick’s series-best 23rd top-five and 29th top-10 finish of 2018.
● Harvick earned his 10th top-five and 16th top-10 in 18 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead.
● Harvick won Stage 1 and finished second in Stage 2. He ends 2018 with a series-best 19 stage wins.
● Harvick led five times for 58 laps to increase his laps-led total at Homestead to 373.
● Logano won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 21st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Homestead. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was 1.725 seconds.
● In winning the Ford EcoBoost 400, Logano won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for the first time in his career, outdueling fellow Championship 4 contenders Truex, Harvick and Kyle Busch.
● Logano’s victory delivered Ford its first manufacturers’ championship since 2002 and 16th overall.
● This was Ford’s 19th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win this year, tying its own record for the second-most victories in a season. (Ford also won 19 races in 1997.)
● Logano’s triumph marked the 108th points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 677th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 26 laps.
● Only 18 of the 39 drivers in the Ford EcoBoost 400 finished on the lead lap.
Championship 4 Results:
1. Joey Logano (5,040 points)
2. Martin Truex Jr. (5,035 points)
3. Kevin Harvick (5,034 points)
4. Kyle Busch (5,033 points)
● Harvick competed in the Championship 4 for the fourth time in the last five years. He won the championship in 2014.
The 2019 season kicks off with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 61st Daytona 500, the first points-paying race of the year, is Feb. 17 and will be broadcast live on FOX.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!