Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Fishing Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 15th in Sunday’s GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ managed to avoid most of the mayhem that unfolded during the 188-lap race, save for the last – a final-lap accident that saw his No. 4 Chevrolet go up and into the outside retaining wall of the frontstretch before coming to rest just past the finish line.
“It was just unfortunate for our Busch Trophy Can Chevrolet,” said Harvick, who won the Sprint Cup race at Talladega in April 2010. “We just got shuffled out there and in a pretty big wreck at the end. But all in all it was an okay day. We led some laps and ran up front – just got shuffled out. We got back there and racing where we didn’t need to be racing and got crashed. We still finished, it is just torn up.”
The GEICO 500 unfolded under the threat of rain for most of the day. The Bakersfield, California, native started 29th and made quick work to position the No. 4 Chevy safely within the top-20. For the most part, Harvick quietly logged laps. It wasn’t until teams started preparing for the first pit stop of the day that he reported the car was on the verge of being too loose and told his crew to avoid any adjustments that would send the car to the free side.
Harvick continued his pace just inside the top-20 for the next several circuits around the 2.66-mile oval. While he was operating with a preservation mentality, he also noted he was having a hard time getting the car to go.
As the event inched closer to the halfway point, rain showers continued to build to the west of the track. Crew chief Rodney Childers elected to exercise a little strategy to secure track position for the Busch Fishing Chevrolet by bringing Harvick to pit road for four tires and fuel just past the midway point – a gamble that could place the No. 4 Chevy in the lead should the race conclude due to rain. While Harvick was on pit road, an accident unfolded on the backstretch, bringing out the caution flag. As the rest of the field made their respective trips to pit road for fuel, Harvick took over the top spot and led the field back to green-flag racing conditions on lap 102.
Harvick was a fixture at the front of the field for the second half of the race, leading four times for a total of nine laps. As the race neared the conclusion of its scheduled 188 laps, drivers started dicing in an effort to get to the front of the field, resulting in a series of cautions during the final 25 laps. After being shuffled out of the top-10, Harvick lined up 15th for the final restart on lap 185. As he was coming around to take the checkered flag, Harvick got turned, with the No. 4 Chevy getting slightly airborne and finally coming to rest back on the track past the finish line in 15th place.