Kevin Harvick finished second in the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday in Fontana, California, extending his streak of consecutive top-two finishes in the five-race-old 2015 season to five.
The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) continued his “freaky fast” ways as he started from the second position and led three times for 34 laps en route to his series-high fifth top-five finish of the season.
It was Harvick’s eighth-straight finish of second or better, a streak that began at Texas Motor Speedway in November. The last driver to score eight consecutive top-two finishes was NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty in 1975. Petty holds the record with 11 straight top-two finishes.
Harvick was attempting to sweep the three-race West Coast swing after winning at both Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, but the Bakersfield, California, native came up .710 of a second short, crossing the finish line in second.
The defending Sprint Cup champion was chasing down SHR teammate Kurt Busch for the lead with two laps to go when the race was slowed by a debris caution, setting up the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. While some drivers decided to stay out, several of the leaders came to pit road. Some of them, including Busch and Harvick, took two tires, while others made a four-tire stop, including eventual winner Brad Keselowski. Busch restarted fourth while Harvick restarted sixth for the first attempt.
Busch and Harvick both pushed their way through the middle of the restart and were running first and second, respectively, before the final caution flag waved for debris on lap 204. All the leaders stayed out under caution, so the second and final attempt at the green-white-checkered saw Busch and Harvick restarting first and second on two tires from the previous stop and Keselowski restarting sixth on four tires.
On fresher tires, Keselowski raced from sixth to the lead on the final attempt. Harvick was able to pass Busch just before reaching the checkered flag to finish as runner-up.“What a race, just really happy for the fans and everybody who was here at the racetrack and watching on TV to see a race like that,” Harvick said. “You just never know how the strategy is going to work out. You are kind of on both sides of the fence there as to what you should or shouldn’t do. If the second restart doesn’t come about, then two tires is the right call. But you just never know. Just really proud of Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser team for everything that they do.”