Pocono late fade too typical of his season, Harvick says

Image by Matthew Thacker/LAT

Pocono late fade too typical of his season, Harvick says


Pocono late fade too typical of his season, Harvick says


Kevin Harvick said his Stewart-Haas Racing team had a “great weekend” at Pocono Raceway despite falling to an 11th-place finish.

Harvick went into detail during his “Happy Hours” show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about the Pocono 400, where the No. 4 had run consistently inside the top 10. Pit strategy played by crew chief Rodney Childers had Harvick in contention for a possible top-five result; however, the team was penalized on its last pit stop for an uncontrolled tire while at the same time Harvick began noticing something was going wrong with his Ford Mustang.

“Rodney and Dax [Gerringer, engineer] had a great pit strategy plan to pit before the competition caution and what we wanted to do, and it played all the way out until the end until the steering box broke and the uncontrolled tire,” Harvick said.

Harvick drove the final 35 laps without powering steering.

“But that’s kind of been the story of the year,” he continued. “We’ve, as a company, not run as well as we’ve needed from a performance side of things with the cars, and on the days when it all goes good and the performance is there, it seems like something else goes wrong. So, it’s not the first time I’ve had that happen … you just ride the wave and try to keep checking things off the list that go wrong and adapt and adjust, adapt and adjust.

“The good thing for us, we had speed in our race car and it handled really well, so that’s really what you hang your hat on. The performance was where it needed to be — because it hasn’t been that way every week. And we ran a whole race and unfortunately just didn’t make it to the end.”

The 2014 Cup Series champion also noted that his issue wasn’t a new one and has been something many in the garage have experienced. The aero package has created an increase in corner speeds with Harvick saying they are anywhere from 12 to 18 mph through the corner, and Turn 2 at Pocono, in particular, is already a fast, rough corner.

Did the new aero package play a role in Harvick’s late issue? Image by Logan Whitton/LAT

“It’s a lot of load on the suspension, and I think it requires us to look at the suspension parts and pieces, and really think about the mileage and the things you put on those parts and pieces,” he said. “Our steering box had 10,000 miles on it, which was not abnormal in the past. But going forward it’s probably a part and piece for us … you have to rethink the mileage and you have to rethink the thickness of the materials.”

As for Harvick’s season overall, he is still winless after 14 races although he’s led 282 laps. Fifth in points with nine top-10 finishes, another recent issue saw the No. 4 team lose a chance at winning the Kansas race when a windshield tear-off stuck to the grille of the car, disturbing its balance. But the team has shown speed with four poles.

This time last year as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series went into Michigan, Harvick had five wins, 11 top-10 finishes and was second in points with 909 laps led. He finished second in the first Michigan race and won in the series’ return visit to the track.