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Harvick overcomes Bristol penalty while Bowyer misses opportunity

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kevin Harvick finished 13th in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol and on the lead lap and that’s about an amazing of a comeback as you’re likely to see at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Making up a lap or perhaps two is difficult. Harvick, at one point, was scored four laps in arrears.

Down. Out. Finished. Done.

Thanks to an incredibly fast No. 4 Ford Mustang, the 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion was able to race his way back onto the lead lap and into the picture.

RELATED: Race results | More on Harvick’s pre-race Bristol penalty

The day certainly didn’t start out well – the team failed pre-race inspection three times and was penalized before the race had even begun.

Because of the inspection issues, Harvick dropped from 13th to the rear of the field at the start of the race; one crew member was ejected, the driver had to do a pass through penalty under green once the race began and the team will lose 30 minutes of practice time at the next points event.

His first break came when he hit pit road after the green flag – a multi-car incident brought out the caution flag and Harvick only lost one lap in the pits.

But a loose wheel put his No. 4 back on pit road a short time later and Harvick soon found himself multiple laps down.

He joined the lead-lap cars during the final caution of the race when he was in the free pass position.

The finish was his worst since a 26th place run at Daytona this year. But it may have been one of the team’s most impressive efforts overall.

As for his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Clint Bowyer led five times for 24 laps and had one of the best long-run cars in the field Sunday. But contact with Joey Logano on lap 432 resulted in a flat tire for the driver of the No. 14 Ford and put the team in catch-up mode for the remainder of the race.

“He was racing me pretty hard,” Bowyer said of Logano. “… We just barely touched, and it must have cut the valve stem out of it or something and hit it just right.”

Bowyer managed a seventh-place finish in spite of the setback.

“My strong suit, just like last week, was long runs,” he said. “We just slowly kept picking them away. You could see that on restarts. I couldn’t take off worth a damn, but I could really come on strong on the big end of a run.”