NSCS: Safety play pays off for Kevin Harvick

Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service Monday, Nov 02 1232
Jockeying for position at the exit from pit road could have been costly for Kevin Harvick, but an opportune caution helped the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion salvage an eighth-place finish and kept his hopes for a second straight title very much alive.

Under caution on Lap 420, Harvick slowed at the exit from pit road to try to gerrymander himself into an odd-numbered position in the running order—which would have put him on the inside row for the subsequent restart on lap 426.

Instead, he and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch collided, damaging the sheet metal surrounding the left front tire of Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet. But the caution flag flew again on Lap 430, enabling Harvick to bring his car to pit road for repairs.

“We got run into there, coming out of the pits and I couldn’t really tell how bad it was,” Harvick said. “But (crew chief) Rodney (Childers), I could tell the panic in his voice. And luckily, the caution came out, because I saw the smoke coming out of the left front tire. But, it was a good call to come back in.

“We were able to get a couple of good restarts there; and then with the front smashed-in, and everything happening, it was just way too tight back there in traffic. But all in all, it was a good day with a lot of chaotic things going on, on the race track. So we just needed to finish that one where we were running; not having a chance to win, we just needed to capitalize on some other peoples’ bad day.”