Kevin Harvick drove his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS to a strong seventh-place finish in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
“We were in a good spot there at the end and what you would want to put yourself in a position to win,” said Harvick, who recorded his 11th top-10 finish in 27 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega and his fourth top-10 result this season. “I felt like I got a good restart with our Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, but our line just never formed up.”
Harvick’s plan was to take the beginning of the race as it came, staying up front if he was able to do so or dropping back if things got hairy around him. While Harvick’s position fluctuated every lap as a result of the multicar draft that keeps the field bunched closely together, his Jimmy John’s Chevrolet had the strength it needed to hold position at the front of the field. For the majority of the race, the Bakersfield, California, native was able to maintain a position inside the top-10. Despite early concerns over high water temperature, Harvick was able to focus on the task at hand, racing for his third win of the 2014 season.
Green-flag racing dominated much of the race, but a series of late-race cautions seemed to play in Harvick’s favor. Knowing the fuel window would be tight, crew chief Rodney Childers instructed the Jimmy John’s driver to save whenever possible. With lengthy caution periods, Harvick was able not only to accomplish the task and ensure that he could make it to the checkered flag, but also to race aggressively for position. He took the lead on lap 168 and was scored on the point a total of three times in the closing stages for 15 laps.
Over the closing laps Harvick’s position fluctuated as the field raced three wide, side by side. Just as the white flag waved, a multicar incident unfolded on the front stretch. With the field frozen, Harvick, who was in the seventh position when the yellow flag waved, was credited with his 213th Sprint Cup top-10 finish.
“The bottom stayed together, and I guess the 40 pulled out of line, and our line just never got formed up,” Harvick said. “All in all, it was a good day for our Jimmy John’s Chevrolet. I don’t think it would have made a difference if the caution hadn’t come out on the last lap. Our line just wasn’t formed whatsoever. We needed the caution before that to not have come out so we could have kept going.”