Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished eighth in the Martinsville 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday.
The eighth-place finish ended his streak of consecutive races finishing in the top-two at eight, dating back to November at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Harvick did, however, maintain his streak of nine straight top-10s dating back to the same race last season.
The defending Sprint Cup champion started 17th and raced his way into the top-five within the first 50 laps of the race, then raced to the lead for the first time on lap 134. Harvick maintained his position toward the front of the field and led eight times for a race-best 154 laps en route to his sixth top-10 finish of the season.
In 27 previous Sprint Cup starts at Martinsville, Harvick had led a combined 364 laps prior to Sunday.
The Bakersfield, California, native raced securely inside the top-five until, during a restart on lap 440 as he ran in fourth, he got stuck in the outside lane, unable to get to the bottom, and quickly dropped to the 10th position.
“I just got hung on the outside and couldn’t get back down,” said Harvick, who previously won the Sprint Cup race at Martinsville in April 2011. “By the time I got down I was 10th or 11th. It still was a good day for everyone on the Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team. Everybody did a good job, just lost track position at the wrong time.”
Harvick had one final attempt to gain ground on the final restart on lap 467, where he ran 10th and gained two positions before the checkered flag on lap 500.The No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team has led a series-best 670 laps through the first six races of 2015. Harvick has led more laps in a single season on only two other occasions – in 2014 when he led 2,137 laps and in 2006 when he led 895 laps. He has led at least one lap in five of the six Sprint Cup races to start this season. Joey Logano and the No. 22 team have led the second-most laps this season with 305.