When somebody leads 214 of 367 laps of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and fails to get the win, frustration is not only natural, but it’s expected.
For Kevin Harvick, the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing driver blew the doors off the competition in the early going, leading the opening 93 circuits from pole before returning to the top spot on Lap 139.
This all came to a delayed halt during a pit stop with 85 laps to go, when Harvick dropped to 12th from the race lead after a broken right-rear pit gun demolished Harvick’s precious track position.
“We had a great car,” Harvick said. “The guys in the garage and at the shop continue to do a great job and we continue to give it away on pit road. Pretty much summed up the night. Just the dominant car and just three bad pit stops on pit road.”
Climbing back into the top 5, a rash of late yellows led to two more slow stops for Harvick, who was bested by eventual race winner Martin Truex, Jr. each time.
“We have championship cars and we’re mediocre on pit road,” he continued. “It’s been that way for a few years.”
Indeed, the pit crew debacle at the No. 4 team has seemed to last as long as the team itself, as Harvick continues through his third year at SHR.
“You have a couple good weeks here and there and every once in a while, you just put together a day,” he said. “But they can’t put together a whole day on pit road right now.”
With only one win since March, Harvick’s patience level is officially pegged as the Sprint Cup Series completes the regular season next week at Richmond.
“I’m over being a cheerleader,” he said. “Those guys get paid a lot of money to perform on pit road and cheerleading hasn’t really been working. You’ve got to get after it on pit road and do your job.”