With rain approaching after the end of Stage 2, it looked like the race off pit road would double as the race for the win, and Kevin Harvick looked to be in good shape after earning his eighth stage win this season.
But teammate Clint Bowyer’s crew chief Mike Bugarewicz made the call to take two tires, and although Harvick lined up next to him to start the final stage, he felt he needed a few more laps than he got as rain wiped out the remainder of the race on lap 133.
“It was a good day for us,” for Harvick, whose second place sealed a 1-2-3 finish for Stewart-Haas Racing with Kurt Busch coming in third.
“Our pit crew was solid, Rodney [Childers] made a good call in the middle of the second stage to keep the track position, and be able to drive away and get the stage win, they had a good pit stop to close out there, and [Bowyer] just gambled, rolled the dice that the rain must have been going to come. And he was able to keep me on the bottom there just by a little bit on the restart, and it was gonna take me a few laps to work back by. But he did a good job hanging on to his car and the gamble paid off for him.”
Both Harvick and Bowyer admitted after the race that Harvick, who led a race-high 49 laps, might have caught his teammate – if only there had been a few more laps. But “I can’t control the weather,” Harvick stated matter-of-factly.
“Look, I’ve been on both sides of this,” he said. “If you’re gonna have racing luck work against you you want to at least stay on your own team, so it worked the other way. At Dover he was kind of in the same position, we went back green and today it worked out for him.
“The exciting thing to me is we did a great job on pit road and we were able to maintain track position and beat everybody off of pit road, obviously those guys took two tires and a gamble, and it rained for them in three laps, so it paid off pretty good.”
Having his teammate alongside him for the restart made no difference in how hard Harvick raced the leader.
“We raced pretty hard,” he said. “I got fairly loose up underneath him there in 3 and 4 when we went down there on the backstretch. I drove it in there, he drove it in there, and slid the back, and he was able to get me sliding enough to where he was able to clear me. I wouldn’t have raced anybody [else] any different.”