With two laps to go in Stage No. 1 at ISM Raceway, Kevin Harvick was looking better and better to advance to the Championship 4 with ease.
Though he leaves ISM with a spot in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it wasn’t as easy as anticipated.
Leading the opening 72 laps in the Can-Am 500, Harvick was forced to pit road following a cut right-front tire on his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. The incident put Harvick out of the stage points and off the lead lap for the start of Stage No. 2.
“I felt it start to go down going into Turn 1,” Harvick said. “I slowed down to the point where I thought I could make it back to the pits and not hit the wall. It came at an OK time because it never tore the car up. It never drove as well after that but we kept ourselves in position all day.”
Receiving the free pass on lap 97, Harvick was back in the top 10 in no time and contended up front when things turned out of control. Specifically, a multi-car accident took out playoff contenders while Harvick drove by unscathed.
“At the end, with everyone wrecking and all over the place, you just needed to stay out of trouble and try to find the safe spot there,” he said. “There is nothing you can do about that stuff. You just re-group, put four new tires on it and go for it again.”
With a series-tying eight wins in 2018, Harvick has been dubbed as the favorite for the Cup crown this year. Trying for what would be his second championship with Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick is confident in his No. 4 team that next Sunday will go their way.
“I think we have a shot every time we show up,” he said. “Our guys are doing a great job at accomplishing everything we did this weekend. It was quite the feat without your crew chief and car chief. Tony Gibson [fill-in crew chief] did a great job filling in and everybody kept their heads about them.”