Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished second in the Richmond 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. It was his seventh top-two finish in nine Sprint Cup starts this season.
Harvick started the race in fifth place and raced his way to the third position by the competition caution on lap 50. He restarted third on lap 56 and raced up to second by lap 101. Following a stop on pit road when the next caution came on lap 129, Harvick managed to beat the field to the start-finish line first while on pit road on lap 130 to lead a lap. It marked the eighth time in nine Sprint Cup races that the No. 4 team has led a lap this season.
After yet another restart on lap 137, Harvick was second and remained there until he reported his car developed a tight-center, loose-off handling condition at lap 173. The condition was worsened by a long green-flag run, and he fell back to the eighth position before he came to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 264 for multiple adjustments. The caution flag flew during the pit cycle, which put the No. 4 Chevrolet a lap down to the leaders in 12th position. Harvick and the No. 4 team elected to take the wave-around to return to the lead lap and restarted 12th on lap 179.
Following that restart, the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet came to life and immediately started its march back toward the front of the field. By lap 333, Harvick was back in the top-five and charging toward the front.
Harvick came to pit road for the final time on lap 353 as the race was under caution for debris. The No. 4 team took four tires and fuel but made no other changes, as the car was the best it had been all afternoon.
The final caution of the day came on lap 369 while Harvick was racing in the fourth position. He stayed out and restarted fourth with 25 laps remaining. Harvick raced to the third position as the field returned to green, then he passed Jamie McMurray for second with 18 laps remaining, but he was unable to chase down SHR teammate Kurt Busch for the win.
“I’m just really happy for everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and Kurt (Busch) and everybody on the No. 41 team and everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser team on our No. 4 car,” Harvick said. “They’ve done a great job and made up a lot of ground after we lost it, and we were able to get back up and at least have a chance there at the end.”
Harvick was credited with leading twice, both times under caution, for a total of two laps to bring his laps-led total at Richmond to 987. Harvick has now led 952 total laps through the first nine NASCAR Sprint Cup races of 2015. He has only led more laps than that in a single season once – his championship season one year ago with 2,137 laps led.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent by winning the rain-postponed Richmond 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
It was the 28th point-paying Sprint Cup win for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s third this season. Harvick won earlier this year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.
Busch started third and led six times for a race-high 291 laps around the .75-mile oval to bring his laps-led total at Richmond to 748. It was Busch’s 26th career Sprint Cup victory, his first this season and his second at Richmond.Harvick crossed the stripe .754 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot to give SHR a 1-2 finish. It was only the second time SHR drivers have finished 1-2 in a Sprint Cup race, with the previous time coming on July 17, 2011 when Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart finished 1-2 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.