Kevin Harvick, an eight-time winner in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season, had the dominant car in the daylight hours of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Only one problem: the sun went down.
Harvick charged from a 12th-place starting spot win the race’s first stage. He finished second to Kyle Larson in the second stage and led 58 of the 267 laps, all told.
But when darkness fell, the handling of Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford fell off, and after a late caution and trip to pit road left him fourth for a restart with 15 laps, Harvick had to settle for a third-place finish in lieu of a second series championship.
“Yeah, we had a daytime race car,” Harvick said. “As soon as it got dark, we never could get our car tightened up there at the end. And then they made a great call to put us in position to win the race, and then the caution came out when the 2 car (Brad Keselowski) spun the 19 (Daniel Suarez), and we came off pit road fourth.
“Our strong point was not the restarts tonight and wound up on the wrong side of it.”
Despite the loose handling condition, Harvick was in position to challenge for the win in the late going. He was running second behind Kyle Busch, who needed to pit for fuel and would have had to surrender the lead, setting up a battle for the win between Harvick and fast-charging Martin Truex Jr.
But with the caution on Lap 247, that matchup never materialized.
“They put us in a position to win if the caution didn’t come out, and we had a shot there… It’s just the way it all shook out. The 22 (Logano) could take off really good.”