Deteriorating handling dooms Kevin Harvick’s title shot

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Ford, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida.

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Before the shadows crept over Turns 1 and 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kevin Harvick had a car capable of challenging fellow title contenders Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.

In the early stages of Sunday’s Ford Eco-Boost 400, he often had the best car among those eligible for the championship.

But as the sun set, Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford tightened up in the corners. Then a piece of flying debris from David Starr’s Chevrolet shot a hole in his championship hopes.

The debris punched a hole in the nose of Harvick’s car below the right-side headlight decal. Though his crew did an admirable job repairing the damage, the handling of Harvick’s Fusion wasn’t where he needed it to be over the final 34-lap green-flag run.

After a restart on Lap 234 of 267, Harvick harried eventual race winner and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Truex before falling back to fourth at the finish.

“We just got really loose and then got a hole in the nose and it started to get tight in (into the corner),” said Harvick, who in 2014 became the first driver to win a Cup title under the elimination format. “We got that fixed. We were pretty good on the next-to-last run, and we were just really loose on the last run.

“It was great to have a chance. We were in the mix all day. Didn’t quite have what we needed at the end… Just couldn’t quite get it where we needed to be to make good times. Some runs we fell off. Some runs we were tight on entry. There at the end we were just too loose.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.