Kevin Harvick endured an up-and-down night in the Sprint Unlimited Sprint Cup Series non-points event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) was forced into the outside wall on the final lap to finish 11th in the 75-lap event.
Harvick, a three-time winner of the Sprint Unlimited (2009, 2010 and 2013), started eighth and raced the inside lane early on, but he soon found as he fell to 18th by lap seven that the outside lane carried more momentum. The first caution of the race occurred on lap 23, and by that time Harvick had raced his way into the top-five. The caution served as the end of the first 25-lap segment. As Harvick brought his car to pit road on lap 26 for a scheduled pit stop, NASCAR scored the No. 4 as the race leader.
The Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet began the final 50-lap segment in the sixth position and raced in the top-five until getting shuffled out on lap 42. A 15-car accident on lap 46 collected the No. 4 Chevrolet when Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 car spun across the track, made contact with the left-front fender of the No. 4 and forced it into the outside wall. The incident led to a 15-minute red flag period. Since the Sprint Unlimited is a non-points exhibition race that allows teams to work on damaged cars under a red-flag condition, the pit crew went to work to repair the damage and returned Harvick to the racetrack in the sixth position. However, Harvick was forced to start in the rear of the field for having too many men over the pit wall as they made repairs.
The heavily damaged car continued to race in the top-10 as the race was red-flagged for the second time of the night on lap 68 for a five-car accident on the backstretch. Harvick brought the No. 4 car to pit road for the final time on lap 69 for minor repairs and returned to the track in the fourth position for the lap-71 restart.
Harvick was still racing in the fourth position on the white-flag lap when the No. 22 car of Joey Logano ran into the rear of the Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet and forced it into the outside wall, causing it to cut a tire and fall back to 11th by the checkered flag.
“(Logano) just drove us straight in the fence,” Harvick explained. “Everybody is trying to be aggressive, but you still have to know when and where you can do things. You can’t just drive somebody in the fence. I’m just disappointed for my guys on my Jimmy John’s/Budweiser team just for the fact that they worked hard to get their car back where it needed to be. And then just one of those deals where you just know that is going to work. Whether it is an all-star race or not, it doesn’t really matter, you can’t just take your head off and throw it on the floorboard and not use your brain.”