Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished fourth in his Can-Am Duel at Daytona on Thursday night at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The Can-Am Duel twin qualifying races set the 40-car field for the season-opening Daytona 500. Harvick’s fourth-place finish in the first Can-Am Duel earned him the ninth starting spot for the 58th Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Harvick qualified 16th last Sunday; however, following post-qualifying inspection, NASCAR officials determined the track bar on the Nos. 4 and 14 cars were “not in compliance with prescribed specifications,” and the qualifying times for Harvick and Brian Vickers were disallowed. Both drivers started at the rear of their respective Can-Am Duel races on Thursday.
The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS began the 60-lap race around the 2.5-mile superspeedway in the 22nd position and raced into the top-10 by the time cars came to pit road for fuel on lap 39. Following the green-flag stop, Harvick quickly moved into the top-five, then into the third position when the first caution flag flew on lap 44. Harvick stayed out in the third position during the caution and raced his way to second on the restart.
With five laps to go, the Bakersfield, California, native dropped to the bottom line trying to protect his position and fell from second to fourth. The move allowed Harvick to lead the bottom row and hold his position, but he was unable to gain any additional spots by the checkered flag.
“I’m really happy” said Harvick, who won the 2013 Budweiser Duel. “We went through the field on that particular occasion and raced up at the front. We had a couple of little handling things that we could make better, but all in all, really happy, just for the fact we could pass cars, maneuver, and the handling was good. There were a lot of cars where the handling was starting to go away. So, in the mix, that is what we needed to do.”
Harvick’s SHR teammate Kurt Busch led the way for SHR by finishing third in his Can-Am Duel race. Busch’s third-place finish in the second Duel race slots him and his No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS eighth for the 58th Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Busch was running third as the field took the white flag, but became collateral damage when a six-car accident triggered by Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray froze the field and forced the race to end under caution. The No. 41 team will make repairs to the racecar rather than go to the backup. As a result, Busch will not have to forfeit his starting position for Sunday’s Daytona 500.