Kevin Harvick’s team still trying to trying to figure out new package

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 03: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, lead the field to green for the start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil Oil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 3, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

For the second straight week, Kevin Harvick looked dominant in the early stages of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

Harvick was the class of the field in the first stage of the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading Laps 1-43 from the pole and closing out the stage after green-flag pit stops by leading Laps 62-80.

In the second half of the race, however, Harvick lost the handle on his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and fell to fourth at the finish. The arc of the Las Vegas event mirrored that of the Atlanta Cup race a week earlier, when Harvick won the second stage before fading to fourth.

“The second half of the race, it’s happened to us two weeks in a row,” Harvick said. “The last two weeks, we’ve just been way off to start practice, based on where everybody thought we should start. And we just weren’t even in the ballpark, making huge changes to get in the ballpark.

“They’ve done a great job of getting the car close. When we get some baseline stuff here, we can strt working on the details and not scrambling so much. But they’re doing a great job, and we knew that was going to be a possibility, and we didn’t know where we’d be with our cars.

“We qualified decent and had a good first half of the race two weeks in a row, but just got tighter as the race went on.”

Greg Engle