A Tale Of Two Races For SHR
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on April 14, 2014 | 7:57 A.M. EST
Kevin Harvick (4) and teammate Kurt Busch (41) provided the spectrum Stewart-Haas Racing experienced at Darlington with Harvick winning and Busch finishing 31st. (Photo: Getty Images)
Stewart-Haas Racing experienced both highs and lows in Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
The ultimate high came with Kevin Harvick’s second win of the season. Harvick worked his way around Dale Earnhardt Jr. with one lap to go to score his second victory of the season.
Harvick led seven times for a race-high 238 to score his first career win at the historic track.
“This is one of those places that I circle every year,’’ said Harvick, who led a race-high 238 laps in scoring his first win at the historic track. “Most all of us know the history of this particular racetrack and what it means to our sport. “You look at the names and pictures on that trophy that they have out there is something that's pretty phenomenal to be a part of.”
Harvick said he and crew chief Rodney Childers understand the importance of winning at Darlington and both hoped they’d be able to celebrate in Victory Lane during their first year as a team at SHR.
“I told him before the year even started, if we're only going to win once this year, let's win at Darlington,” he said.
Harvick’s boss Tony Stewart had a run Saturday night that probably felt like a win after things started. Stewart started 23rd in the race and slowly moved his way toward the front. He got shuffled back in the second half and eventually fell a lap down to the field.
But thanks to some late luck with caution flags and pit strategy, Stewart rallied to place ninth.
“To end up ninth after where we were most of the race, we’ll take it,” said Stewart, who has 12 top-10s in 22 career Sprint Cup starts at Darlington. “We were stuck in traffic all night, but right at the end, we were able to make some headway and get a top-10.”
The other two members of the SHR stable didn’t enjoy as much success Saturday night. Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick both finished far outside the top-10.
For Busch, the night ended with a thud when he was clipped by Clint Bowyer racing in traffic down the backstretch and slid hard into the inside wall. Busch’s No. 41 Chevrolet was destroyed and he exited the race with a late incident for the second week in a row, placing 31st.
Although Patrick was credited with a 22nd-place finish, the second-year Sprint Cup Series driver and crew chief Tony Gibson were actually pleased with the performance.
The duo came into Darlington looking for a finish inside the top-25.
“Tonight was such a big improvement for us from where we have been in the past at this track,” said Patrick, who made her 54th career Sprint Cup start and her third at Darlington. “The guys gave me a really drivable GoDaddy Chevy, and we kept making improvements to it all night. I just needed it to turn a little better. I’m just really proud of Tony Gibson and all the guys tonight. The guys on pit road did a great job all night long, and really, it was just a good night for me and the entire team. We’ll take this and look forward to the next race after a well-deserved break.”