Date: May 26, 2019
Event: Coca-Cola 600 (Round 13 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 400 laps, broken into four stages (100 laps/100 laps/100 laps/100 laps)
Start/Finish: 5th/10th (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point standings: 3rd (478 points, 41 out of first)
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 3 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):
● Kevin Harvick started sixth and finished fifth, collecting six bonus points.
● Drove his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang up to third by lap six and into second on lap 11 after passing Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Aric Almirola.
● Fell to second on lap 21 as Kyle Busch took the position. “Little too loose right now, down to the center of the corner, both ends,” said Harvick.
● Pitted under caution on lap 24 for four tires and fuel. Only adjustment was to right-rear tire pressure.
● Restarted in fourth on lap 28 and quickly moved to second where Harvick battled for the lead with Busch.
● Caution on lap 48 allowed Harvick to pit again for four tires and fuel. Quick pit work got Harvick off pit road in first place.
● Led laps 51-54 until Busch reassumed lead, but Harvick retook lead from laps 59-62 until Martin Truex Jr., grabbed the lead.
● Truex cut a tire on lap 74, bringing out the caution and putting Harvick back into the lead.
● Pitted under caution on lap 75 for four tires and fuel and a slight tire pressure adjustment. Seven cars stayed out.
● Lined up eighth for the lap-79 restart and drove back up to second when the caution came out again on lap 87.
● Harvick stayed out during this caution and grabbed the lead from Brad Keselowski on lap 91.
● Another caution on lap 93 halted the racing action, and when the race restarted on lap 96, Harvick was stuck on the outside.
● Harvick dropped to fifth in the final laps of the stage.
● Crew chief Rodney Childers kept the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang on the racetrack to conserve tires for later in the race.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):
● Harvick started fourth and finished sixth, collecting five bonus points.
● While he started the stage fourth, he was second after the first lap of green-flag racing.
● Harvick maintained second place through a caution on lap 126. “Too tight first third of corner and on exit,” he said.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel on lap 127. Lined up eighth for lap-132 restart.
● Vaulted to fourth by lap 133 and then took third from Busch on lap 137 before getting second from Ryan Blaney on lap 139.
● Just before a caution on lap 162, Harvick said his Mobil 1 Ford Mustang was “starting to push bad.”
● Pitted on lap 163 for four tires and fuel with a right-rear wedge adjustment.
● Was third for lap-167 restart, but dropped to eighth after getting caught in middle amongst a bunch of drivers jockeying for position.
● “Won’t turn!” said Harvick on the radio on lap 169. Dropped to ninth by lap 173.
● “Plowing tight!” said Harvick as he fell to 10th on lap 181.
● Took advantage of caution and pitted for four tires and fuel and reversed right-rear wedge adjustment from previous stop.
● The top-10 cars stayed out on the track during this caution period from laps 190-193, placing Harvick 17th for the restart.
● Harvick re-entered the top-10 on lap 198 and kept on rallying to finish the stage in sixth.
● Childers kept the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang on the racetrack to conserve tires for later in the race.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 201-300):
● Harvick started third and finished 19th
● “Plowing tight,” said Harvick on lap 214. “Chattering the tires up off the corner on both ends.”
● After being fifth at lap 220, Harvick was ninth five laps later.
● After falling to 14th, Harvick made a scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 251 for four tires, fuel and a left-rear wedge adjustment.
● Just as Harvick left his pit box, the caution flag waved, trapping Harvick a lap down in 30th position.
● Harvick took the “wave-around” by staying out during the caution, earning his lap back. He restarted 23rd on lap 258.
● Despite climbing back up to 18th by lap 277, Harvick said he was “sliding the front tires like crazy.”
● Fell one spot to 19th at the end of the stage.
● Childers called for massive changes to the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang at the conclusion of the stage. In addition to four tires and fuel, packers were removed from both front suspensions, eight rounds of left-rear wedge were taken out, and two rounds went into the track bar.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 301-400):
● Harvick started 20th and finished 10th.
● Shortly after the race returned to green on lap 308, Harvick keyed his mic and said, “I can’t drive it this loose.”
● With another caution on lap 317 for a multicar crash on the backstretch, Childers brought Harvick back to the pits and reversed the track bar adjustment from the previous stop and also put two rounds of wedge back into the left rear.
● Lined up 10th for the lap-324 restart and was up to sixth the next time around the 1.5-mile oval.
● Keselowski took sixth from Harvick on lap 326, and then Denny Hamlin took seventh on lap 330, jettisoning Harvick to eighth.
● Ryan Newman dropped Harvick to ninth on lap 333 and then Busch got by on lap 345 to put Harvick 10th.
● Made scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 357 for four tires and fuel, and in a case of déjà vu, caution came out a lap later and put Harvick one lap down.
● Harvick took the “wave-around” by staying out during the caution, earning his lap back. He restarted 17th on lap 366.
● Harvick rallied to ninth before the race’s final caution flag waved on lap 390. He pitted for four tires and fuel on lap 392.
● In ninth for the lap-396 restart, Harvick momentarily dropped out of the top-10 before grabbing 10th on the final lap.
● Harvick earned his ninth top-10 of the season and his 17th top-10 in 36 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Charlotte.
● Harvick has finished outside the top-10 at Charlotte just twice since joining SHR in 2014.
● Harvick led four times for 14 laps to increase his laps-led total at Charlotte to 542.
● Truex won the Coca Cola 600 to score his 22nd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at Charlotte. His margin of victory over second-place Joey Logano was .330 of a second.
● There were 16 caution periods for a total of 80 laps.
● Only 17 of the 40 drivers in the Coca-Cola 600 finished on the lead lap.
● Logano and Busch leave Charlotte tied for the championship lead with a 41-point advantage over third-place Harvick.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“For us, we lost the handle on the car. We had some different shift codes in the tires that we had to run because that’s what we had. As soon as we put all those shift codes on, the car just went to absolute junk.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Pocono 400 on Sunday, June 2 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!