Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), fought to maintain position early, but he raced to a runner-up finish after the sun set in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on Sunday. Harvick now holds a 36-point cushion atop the Sprint Cup standings over SHR teammate Kurt Busch.
The Sprint Cup points leader started from the eighth position and fought an ill-handling racecar to maintain a top-10 position through the first half of the race. However, when Harvick brought the No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road on lap 255, crew chief Rodney Childers decided to make substantial adjustments as the sun set and the temperatures cooled. The changes made an immediate impact; the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet came to life and began its march toward the front.
The 2014 Sprint Cup champion found himself in the second position and chasing down leader Martin Truex Jr. by lap 336. The final caution of the night came shortly after, on lap 341, and Harvick brought the car to pit road for four tires and fuel. He restarted third on lap 344 and raced his way back to the second position by lap 357.
The Bakersfield, California, native did everything he could to chase down Truex for the race win, but he reached the checkered flag 2.572 seconds behind the No. 78 car in the runner-up position.
“We struggled tonight. Our Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was not very good in the first 450 miles of this particular race,” said Harvick, who won the Coca-Cola 600 in 2011 and 2013. “Rodney (Childers) and everybody on our team did a great job to do whatever they did with the air pressure and just told me it was a really big adjustment. The last couple of runs I got tight. The one run when we had the first air pressure adjustment we were really good. The last two runs I was a little bit tighter once I got up behind those guys; right behind them, I just couldn’t go anywhere. I’m just really proud of the effort to turn the car around. We had a 10th-place car and they turned it into a car capable of racing for the win. That is pretty awesome.”
Harvick’s runner-up effort was his third of the season, and it came after starting eighth in the 400-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval. The result was also Harvick’s sixth top-five and 10th top-10 in the 13 races contested this season, and his seventh top-five and 14th top-10 in 31 career Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte.
Harvick led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing contingent Sunday night at Charlotte.