Cup Notes: A Top Salvage Job
By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
Hampton, Ga. – Kevin Harvick salvaged his worst run of the young Sprint Cup season by finishing ninth in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500.
Harvick, who ran outside of the top 20 much of the day with an ill-handling car, made up a lot of ground by dodging a Turn 4 wreck on lap 333 that collected seven competitors.
“If a ninth-place effort ever felt like a win, then that was it,” said Harvick, who remains atop the Cup championship standings with a 26 point lead over Matt Kenseth.
“We just weren’t very good all weekend. (Crew chief) Gil (Martin) made a great call there late to not pit and take the wave around. We got a quick caution, which enabled us to get tires and take a big swing at the chassis.
“Today was the kind of day that we just couldn’t manufacture last year.”
Rough cut: During much of Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, Denny Hamlin’s Toyota Camry was among the fastest cars on the 1.54-mile quad-oval.
But a cut tire late in the event slowed the effort of the Virginia native, who wound up leading 32 laps.
“Us, (Kurt Busch) and (Kasey Kahne) were the class of the field for most of the day,” Hamlin said. “I didn’t push my car hard at all all day. I let guys pass on the restarts and I would just go right by them on 20 or 30 lapped tires.
“It’s a shame, you know, we wish we had a better finishing day. But that is all we can ask for is to be that competitive.”
Slugger a hit: Paul Menard credited crew chief Slugger Labbe for making the call to take two tires near the end of Sunday’s race which helped the Wisconsin native post a fifth-place finish.
“Slugger made a helluva call there taking two tires at the end and get some clean track,” Menard said. “We knew we probably weren’t going to hold off four tires, but it at least got us in front of the excitement and I guess there was some at the end.
“We dodged a bullet there at the end with all the action out there.”
Engines taken: Following Sunday’s race, NASCAR announced that the engines of race winner Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers (random) and Michael McDowell (start-and-park) would be taken to the NASCAR R&D center and torn down for observation.
Busch and seventh-place finisher Vickers’ chassis will also be taken to the NASCAR R&D center for observation.
– Jeff Hood can be reached at email@example.com Comments