Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished second in the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Harvick scored his eighth top-two finish in 11 races this season and his ninth top-10 in 19-career Sprint Cup starts at Kansas.
The reigning Sprint Cup Series champion started sixth and raced to the lead by lap 50. The No. 26 car spun coming off turn 4 on lap 95, and during the ensuing caution, rain began to fall. The downpour forced a rain delay of two hours and sixteen minutes.
When racing resumed, the Sprint Cup Series point leader battled with Martin Truex Jr. for the majority of the second half of the race. Harvick took the lead on lap 212 and looked to be on the way to his third win of the season. He held a lead of more than a second over Truex with 13 laps remaining – but then came the final caution of the night came on lap 257.
Harvick brought the No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road for two tires, while Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon stayed out and Truex stopped for fuel only. Harvick rejoined the field in the sixth position. On the lap-261 restart, Harvick raced to the second position, but he was unable to chase down leader Johnson in the final six laps.
“I’m just really proud of our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser guys; they did a great job tonight,” said Harvick, who won the Sprint Cup race at Kansas from the pole in October 2013. “We made some huge adjustments on this thing under that last green-flag pit stop, and we were able to make the car a lot better. We were just in a bad spot leading the race there. I mean the No. 48 (Johnson) and No. 88 (Earnhardt), those guys didn’t have anything for us on speed. They were just doing what they had to do on track, positionwise, and then move all over the racetrack to try to get the air off your car. The good news is we have a lot of speed in our car. We took an ill-handling racecar and made it into a good car. I’m just really proud of all my guys.”
Harvick was credited with leading twice for 53 laps to bring his laps-led total at Kansas to 454. Harvick has now led 1,006 total laps through the first 11 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.Harvick’s second-place finish led the four-car SHR contingent at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.