Kevin Harvick had a quiet Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. Quiet but successful.
“I am really proud of everybody on our Mobil 1 Ford,” said Harvick. “We did grind one out.”
The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team grabbed a sixth-place finish in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 coming from the 23rd starting position. With only two stage breaks cautions, Harvick put in the work on track while Rodney Childers figured the strategy and the pit crew held serve on pit road.
Harvick finished Stage 1 in eighth by staying out as others pitted early. He was then 23rd at the end of the second stage when Childers had him come in for service before the pits closed. Although he cycled out fourth after the final round of stops, Harvick, who won at Sonoma in 2017, slipped two positions by the checkered flag.
“We didn’t have a great car this weekend,” said Harvick. “We aborted everything that we were doing and put the 14 (Clint Bowyer) stuff in, and we still weren’t very good. We wound up grinding the right front tire off at the end, and I was just hanging on for dear life.
“That’s a gritty performance. That’s what we’ve done all year. We need to figure out how to be closer at the beginning of the weekend. We will. We’ve been scrapping pretty hard for 16 weeks.”
Despite being winless and often speaking of how much improvement is needed, Harvick is third in the point standings. He’s also led 297 laps and has 11 top-10 finishes, which has him tied with points leader Joey Logano for second-most in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (Kyle Busch leads with 15).
“We just have to get closer,” Harvick continued. “We’ve been way off to start practices at a number of places. We’ve made some mistakes when we had chances to win races. We keep making decent days out of it and just haven’t been to victory lane, but we’ll get it.”
At this time one year ago Harvick had five wins. The deepest Harvick has ever gone into a season before winning was the fall race at ISM Raceway in 2012. Only three times — 2004, ’08, ’09 — has Harvick gone winless.