A blown tire has eliminated NASCAR Playoff contenders Kevin Harvick and race polesitter Erik Jones early in the Playoff-opening South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
With 13 laps to go in Stage 2, Harvick’s right front tire appeared to unravel entering Turn 1, sending him into the outside wall and into the path of Jones, who had nowhere to go but into the back of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
Harvick was heard on the radio decrying “Piece of s*** tires,” which he blamed for the wreck.
“There was something wrong from the time we put the tires on,” he told NBCSN after getting out of the car. “It’s like Russian Roulette every time you put these piece of crap tires on, and try to drive around the racetrack. One time it’s tight, one time it’s loose, one time they’re blistered. We had a great car and then you put a set of tires on and you can’t even hardly make it through the field. Just hate it for everybody on the Mobil 1 Ford.”
Harvick entered the Playoffs tied with Kyle Busch for the points lead with 50 playoff points, but Jones’ crash puts him on the outside of the 12th and final cutoff spot for the next round.
“I saw [Harvick] blow the tire but I had already committed to the top running up there, trying to get into the corner,” Jones said, “and unfortunately it’s hard to get slowed up and get to the bottom when you’re carrying that much speed.”
“It’s unfortunate. We didn’t have the best handling Dewalt Camry today, but we were gonna end up okay, we were gonna finish top-10 no matter what. Nothing Kevin can do, nothing we can do, unfortunately.
“Not the situation we need to be in. We didn’t have any bonus points for us and we’ve got some work to do now. I don’t think we’ve got to win, but we definitely got to run really well next week and on the Roval, so we’ll keep at it.”
The next race on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule takes place next Saturday night at Richmond Raceway before the series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway Sept. 30 for the first race on its road/oval course.