Kevin Harvick endured an up-and-down night in the Irwin Tools Night Race Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and he was on his way back up when the checkered flag dropped. The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) rallied from 16th to 11th in the final 63 laps of the 500-lap event, leaving Harvick one position short of a top-10.
Harvick started from the pole and led the first 37 laps of the race before Jeff Gordon made the pass for the lead. Harvick remained in the top-five and was chasing then-leader Denny Hamlin when the front end of the No. 4 Chevrolet made contact with Hamlin’s No. 11 car on lap 162. The contact caused Hamlin to spin into the inside retaining wall, ending his night, and allowed Harvick to retake the lead.
Harvick led the following 37 laps until bringing his car to pit road for four tires and fuel when the next caution came on lap 196. Differing pit strategies resulted in the No. 4 restarting 10th on lap 200. The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet driver methodically raced his way back through the field and returned to the second position by lap 271.
The Jimmy John’s team maintained its position racing in the top-10 until lap 432, when Harvick was issued a pit road speeding penalty as he came in for his final service of the night. The penalty dropped Harvick from seventh to 16th for the final restart on lap 437, but he raced his way from 16th up to 11th by the time the checkered flag dropped.
“We got a speeding penalty there at the end,” Harvick explained. “I knew I was close, but I tried to get everything I could on pit road and wound up biting us. I’m just proud of all the guys on the Jimmy John’s team. They did a good job. We raced hard all night and just made a mistake there on pit road speeding.”
Harvick led three times for a total 75 laps throughout the event.