The big story in Martin Truex Jr.’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory at Sonoma Raceway was a pit stop bluff that convinced Kevin Harvick’s crew chief, Rodney Childers, to bring his driver to pit road earlier than planned during the final stage of the Toyota/Save Mart 300.
But in a post-mortem of the event on Friday at Chicagoland Speedway, Harvick said he didn’t believe the “fake-out” as Childers called it, was the determining factor in the race.
“I don’t really feel like Rodney’s call affected the race one way or another,” Harvick said. “I don’t feel like, if we had waited eight laps to pit, we would have beaten the 78 (Truex) anyway. I think Martin had the best car at that particular point, and we were fighting things that nobody really knew about at that particular time, not even Rodney.
“I try not to talk about our weaknesses on the radio. I can always tell him afterwards. There were things going on that, after the first two stages, I felt like we were in position to be competitive with the 78, but we got a little bit worse, and I felt like he got a little bit better at the end of the race—and eight laps of pitting wasn’t going to change the outcome.”
The winner of five of the first 16 races this season, Harvick wasn’t about to play the blame game.
“When you have something that is going as well as everything that we have going, there’s no reason to put a chink in the armor and start to tear it down,” Harvick said. “Those guys (Harvick’s team), when I smashed into the side of Kyle Larson and spun myself out in the middle of the straightaway at California, those guys were all there to support me.
“And that is what I was there to do last week when he thought he did something wrong. The support system is really one of the things that I feel like our team has built over the past five years amongst each other. The trust and the support that each (of us gets) from each other when you feel like you did something wrong is really part of the strength of the team.”