Blown engine cuts Kevin Harvick's day short
April 07, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
Kevin Harvick exited Monday’s Duck Commander 500 after just 28 laps of the scheduled 334-lap event due to a blown engine in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
The race, originally scheduled for Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, was delayed one day due to inclement weather.
"Something happened with the engine right after that restart," Harvick said. "The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS was really fast. It’s frustrating. I don’t know what else I can say. I didn’t get any indication that anything was going wrong. Hendrick engines are among the fastest and most reliable engines in the garage. We’ll take it back to the shop and figure out what happened. But that’s a disappointing end to the day."
The resulting 42nd-place finish was the latest setback for the veteran driver, who won earlier this year at Phoenix International Raceway but has battled mechanical problems of various sorts in several of this year’s first seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events.
Following his Phoenix win, Harvick was saddled with a 41st-place finish the following week in Las Vegas due to a left front hub failure.
At Bristol, it was a cut oil line late in the race resulted in a 39th-place finish.
Tire problems, which impacted several teams at Auto Club Speedway, derailed Harvick as well, and left him 36th at day’s end.
Although he scored a seventh-place finish at Martinsville, Harvick and his team had their share of issues there as well -- one of two chains connected to the rear tires broke and resulted slower pit stops and a loss of track position each time Harvick came onto pit road.
Crew chief Rodney Childers said if there has been a bright spot, besides the Phoenix win, it was that "we’ve been fast."
"We’ve been fast enough to win every race this year," Childers told NASCAR.com on April 1. "We were fortunate enough to win one of them. We could have already won four races if we hadn’t made mistakes and stuff like that.
"There aren’t too many people that ever have a shot at winning four races in a year. If we can do that this early in the season, I’m sure we can keep building up, making our cars better."
Harvick entered Monday’s race 25th in points. To be eligible for one of the 16 spots available in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a driver must be 30th or higher in the points standings following the season’s 26th race.
"We’ve got to get ourselves built back up," Childers said. "… I don’t worry about it with (Kevin) because he’s a good enough driver and we’re a good enough team that we can win another race, but you don’t ever know. You may win another one and you may not. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got some points to make sure you’re in there."