LAS VEGAS, N.v.— When it rains, it usually pours for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).This was the case this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Kobalt 400.
In the first two races of the season at Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, SHR showed that their switch to Ford was not a hinderance as they showed the upper hand by winning the Daytona 500 and dominating the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
The organization, as a whole, seemed to struggle throughout the weekend, especially during the race.
Kevin Harvick’s day was the first to end of the SHR stable. Harvick only completed 68 circuits. Harvick cut a tire and made hard contact with the outside wall on the front stretch.
“It started vibrating about four or five laps there before it blew out, and I was just trying to ride it to the end of the stage there. Obviously, it didn’t make it. The worst part was the medical response,” said Harvick after the accident. “It took them forever to get to the car. All in all, our Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford was running good. We were just too loose right there. It’s not like we were even tight, so it either just cut the tire, or came apart or melted the bead.”
Harvick finished in the 39th position, only scoring one point to his championship tptal and no playoff points. Harvick currently sits eighth in points 41 points away from the points leader, Brad Keselowski.
Danica Patrick has a so-so day in Las Vegas. The team was forced to change the gearbox on Saturday, resulting in the team starting from the rear of the field on Sunday. In the opening stage of the race, Patrick was having trouble on entry and exit in the corners. She finished 29th in the first stage. In the second stage, Patrick climbed into the top-20 before pit stops sat her back. She finished 28th in the second stage. In the third stage, the day went from so-so to worse for Patrick. Patrick was two laps down. She pitted under the green flag cycling her out of the top-30. She worked her way into the top-30 before she suffered mechanical woes and went to the garage.
“It was another day where my Aspen Dental Ford team worked hard to get me better throughout the race. There late in the race, we finally got the car to a place where I think we could have got a little more racy with it, especially if we would have caught some breaks, but then it just flattened out. I just rode around the top in case something happened. Unfortunately, it did and having a teammate behind me was not ideal for the timing of it. We’ll just move on to Phoenix and see if we can keep improving,” said Patrick.
Patrick finished 36th at Las Vegas, scoring only one point. She currently sits 30th in the points standing, 95 points behind Keselowski.
Kurt Busch was the third driver from the SHR stable to experience trouble. Busch started the opening stage in the 17th position, but worked his way into the top-10. However, he was battling a loose handling car that resulted in him finishing 12th in this stage. The second stage of the Kobalt 400 is where Busch began to see problems. Busch began to experience battery issues that resulted in everything except the gear fan to be turned off. The team told Busch to stay out until the second battery died. Busch would use the first battery to work his way back to pit road on lap 201. Busch lost four laps on pit road as the team changed the batteries resulting in a 30th place finish.
“We went through a lot today. Obviously it wasn’t the day we were hoping to have with our Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion,” Busch stated. “We didn’t have the long-run speed or the balance, and we had an electrical issue that forced us to change batteries on pit road. We kept battling, we didn’t give up. I hoped to have a better run here in front of the hometown fans.”
Busch currently sits seventh in the points standings only 39 points away from Keselowski.
Clint Bowyer had the best day out of the SHR stable in Las Vegas. Bowyer was running strong in the first stage until he went down pit road under the lap 19 caution period. Bowyer lost several spots on the pit lane due to a slower car. Bowyer finished 19th in the first stage. In the second stage, Bowyer battled loose conditions, but battled to finish 14th. In the third stage, Bowyer found himself running the same lap-times as drivers in the top-six. Bowyer ended up finishing the race running in the 10th position.
“It was a struggle. To be truthful, we weren’t the best all weekend, but we just kept digging. Buga (Mike Bugarewicz) didn’t give up on the box and kept adjusting on it and got me pretty good, the best we’d been right there at the end. It’s a top-10 and gives us some momentum. It’s our third race together and we got a top-10, so we’ve got to keep digging,” said Bowyer.
Bowyer currently sits 12th in the points standings, 59 points back from Keselowski.
Despite the struggles over the weekend at Las Vegas, SHR hopes to rebound and recover at Phoenix International Raceway in the Camping World 500, the second race of NASCAR’s “West Coast Swing”.