Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 ditech Home Loans Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), won Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The win is the 34th of Harvick’s Sprint Cup career, his third win of 2016 and his second win in 32 Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire.
“I’m just really proud of everybody on our ditech team for everything that they did today and for Rodney (Childers, crew chief) leaving us out there,” said Harvick, the 2006 winner of the fall race at New Hampshire. “Our car would fire off really good after the tires would cool off, and we could take off. All those other guys were buried back in traffic. We were able to time that last restart really good, and I was able to keep the right-side tires above the hash marks going into turn one. That was really the key for me to get the car and get off the brake and get back to a little bit of throttle.”
Harvick started 19th in the 40-car field on Sunday and quickly made a charge to the front, cracking the top-10 within the first 50 laps around the 1.058-mile track. By the halfway point he had become a fixture among the top-five, reporting only minor complaints with the ditech Chevy’s handling as the race continued.
The last restart of the race turned out to be the game changer for Harvick and company. The 2014 Sprint Cup champ was in second place for the restart with six laps to go. He charged into the first turn alongside race leader Matt Kenseth and maintained the inside position on the track as the field raced down the backstretch into turn three. He emerged as the race leader at the exit of turn four and started to stretch the lead during the final laps en route to the victory.
“For me, it was just a smooth restart,” Harvick said. “I just didn’t want to spin the tires. I don’t know what happened to (Kenseth), or if I just timed it right. It worked out good when we got to turn one.
“I’m just excited,” Harvick added. “I was content with where we were, but once you get up there in the front like that, you’ve got to take a chance to try to win.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished fifth. It was Busch’s seventh top-five this season and his eighth top-five in 32 career Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 18th.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 23rd.
Kenseth finished .442 of a second behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 31 laps with two drivers failing to finish the 300-lap race.
Harvick, Busch and Stewart are representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and they entered the second race of the 10-race, 16-driver Chase ranked 14th, 10th and 12th, respectively, in the Round of 16 standings.
Harvick leaves New Hampshire in second place and is locked into the Round of 12 thanks to his victory at New Hampshire. Busch is 11th with a 15-point margin over 13th place. Stewart is 15th, 11 points outside of the top-12. Following the third race of the Chase at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, only those Chase drivers who have won a race or are among the top-12 in points will advance to the Round of 12.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the third race of the Chase – is the Oct. 2 Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.
Source: Ryan Barry with True Speed Communication