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Harvick overcomes penalties for 10th 2015 runner-up finish

RELATED: Full results from Bristol | Updated standings

 

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Kevin Harvick became the first driver since 1972 to post double-digit runner-up finishes during the course of a season Saturday night, trailing race winner Joey Logano across the finish line in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

 

The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion had to overcome two pit road penalties to put himself in contention for the win, but was unable to reel in the Team Penske driver in the closing laps of the 500-lap event.

 

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took the disappointment of another near-win in stride. He's had worse finishes that weren't "near as cool as finishing second," he said.

 

"I'm not frustrated at all because I've been on the other side of this fence, and you'd give everything in the world to finish second every week because it's not easy. This is a hard sport, and to go to all these different types of race tracks and see the success that the team has, I couldn't be prouder … because I know that at any moment you can rattle off two or three wins in a row at any type of race track, so it's fun."

 

No driver had posted 10 or more runner-up finishes in a single season since Bobby Allison managed the feat in '72. Harvick became just the eighth driver to do so, joining Allison, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett, Dick Rathmann, Joe Weatherly and Buck Baker.

 

Pearson holds the overall mark, registering 18 second-place results in 1969.

 

Harvick failed to lead a lap at BMS, but not for lack of trying. Starting seventh, the Sprint Cup Series champion had driven up to fourth by Lap 126 when Kyle Larson brought out the second caution of the night. But a violation for crewmen coming over the wall too soon dropped the No. 4 Chevrolet back to 22nd on the ensuing restart.

 

He had raced his way back inside the top 10 by the halfway point of the race, and was in the top five at Lap 350. But another penalty, this one for speeding on pit road, dropped him back outside the top 10.

 

With less than 70 laps remaining, Harvick was third on a final restart, taking second from Logano's teammate, Brad Keselowski, when the race resumed.

 

"He (Logano) was just one step ahead of me in traffic," Harvick said of his attempts to track down Logano. "I couldn't get my car to rotate across the center like I needed it to, and every time I tried to force it, it would snap the back out."

 

Logano called it "a very exciting last 20, 30 laps for sure."

 

"I really thought we were going to be able to pull away because I thought we were really good in the long run, and then we didn't pull away," Logano said. "And I was like, ‘uh-oh.'"

 

After the race, Rodney Childers, crew chief for Harvick, said he still didn't understand how his driver could get hit with a speeding penalty when driver Denny Hamlin wasn't cited for excessive speed.

 

"He (Hamlin) was pushing us around the corner," Childers said. "(Kevin) said his speed went up like 300 RPM when he was pushing him. He was like, ‘Oh God, this is going to be close.' And we were speeding."

 

Otherwise, Childers said, it was another good night for the defending champions.

 

"The team overcame a lot of adversity this weekend, which is a plus getting ready for the Chase," he said. "We had a clutch problem this morning and had to change the master cylinder, the clutch … all kinds of stuff. Then to go through what we went through in the race and fight back.

 

"The biggest thing is just Kevin drove his butt off to get back up there and everybody did a good job overcoming it."

 

Runner-up finishes in a season

Number Driver Year
18 David Pearson 1969
15 Bobby Allison 1970
14 Richard Petty 1964
13 Ned Jarrett 1965
12 Bobby Allison 1972
12 David Pearson 1968
12 Joe Weatherly 1962
12 Dick Rathmann 1953
10 Kevin Harvick 2015
10 Buck Baker 1958

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