Harvick frustrated with another runner-up showing
May 26, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
RELATED: Full race results | Series standings
CONCORD, N.C. -- Any mention of consolation prizes, moral victories or solace to be had in finishing second failed to come out of Kevin Harvick's mouth Sunday night after the Coca-Cola 600.
Rocketing from 10th place to a runner-up finish in the final 16 laps, including a stunning five-position jump in one trip around Charlotte Motor Speedway, was a captivating march to watch. But for all the ground Harvick made up at speed in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet, the precious time he lost while stopped on pit road stung the most.
"Just shot ourselves in the foot again and played catch-up for the rest of the night," said Harvick, who led 100 of 400 laps. "So just got to thank everybody ... for putting fast cars on the race track, but we've got to clean pit road up."
Harvick was left dejected with a second-place outcome for the third straight week (Kansas and both Charlotte races) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In each instance, time lost on pit road played a part in the result.
"We're going to have problems," Harvick said, "but when you continuously have problems, then it starts to get frustrating."
Sunday, Harvick's hindrance partly stemmed from misfortune just past the halfway point when he was forced to make an unscheduled extra pit stop in the 264th lap with a loose right front wheel, dropping him one lap down in 16th place. On Lap 275, his fortunes turned as the beneficiary of the yellow flag when teammate Kurt Busch's engine expired.
After relaying sympathy for Busch's downfall over the team radio, Harvick said, "We're the free pass? ... Awesome. I mean, that's big."
Back on the lead lap, Harvick methodically picked up spots on the race track. He slipped past Matt Kenseth to take second with one lap to go and was 1.272 seconds behind race winner Jimmie Johnson at the drop of the checkered flag, leaving Harvick to express his desire for a 700-mile race for more time to regain ground.
But the average time the No. 4 spent on pit road bore out the complaints both from the driver and crew chief Rodney Childers -- Harvick's team was just 13th-best Sunday in that statistical category, and his team made 13 trips to pit road while most front-runners made 10 or 11.
As has been the case for the majority of the year, Harvick's car was among the fastest. While Childers said that he had to make few adjustments throughout the four-hour-plus race, he admitted the team had work to do to iron out its creases.
"Running second three weeks in a row, it's hard to be pissed off about it, but we are," Childers said. "We've got to get our stuff together a little bit better and quit making mistakes."
Harvick's fate for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff is sealed thanks to his two regular-season victories thus far in 2014. But Childers was direct in stating the team's intent to reverse its streak of second-place finishes next weekend in the series' first visit of the year to Dover International Speedway, a track where Harvick has yet to win in his Sprint Cup career.
"It's a shame we didn't win the race, but it's part of it," Childers said. "Our plan is to go up there, win every practice, sit on the pole and win the race."