Rodney Childers knew he needed to do something different to give Kevin Harvick a shot at the championship.
As the lowest running playoff driver approaching the final round of pit stops, Childers kept Harvick on track 14 laps longer than the competition. Harvick pitted for the last time on lap 222, but he also needed a caution for the fresher tires to matter as he was over 20 seconds behind Kyle Busch.
The field stayed clean to the end, though, and the yellow never flew again. Harvick finished fourth in the race and third in the championship behind Busch and Martin Truex Jr.
“Those guys, they were so much better than us on the long runs,” said Harvick. “Really, our best chance was to have a caution at the end, and we never got one. We just did something different hoping for a caution, and that’s what you’re supposed to do in those late situations like that; just do the opposite of the cars you’re trying to race. And it just didn’t work out.”
Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Mustang was fast during the daylight and on short runs. Starting on the front row, Harvick led the race’s first 20 laps and finished fourth in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2. He racked up a total of 41 laps led before the end of the night.
“On the restarts, I could do what I wanted to do, and I could hold them off for 15 or 20 laps,” said Harvick. “This race has come down to that every year, so you kind of play towards that. They were quite a bit better than us on the long runs, but we had a really good car for those first 15 or 20 laps on the restarts and had a lot of speed.
“Just never got to try to race for it there with a caution.”