LINCOLN, Ala. — Kevin Harvick was 0.012 seconds from getting a win in his final full-time NASCAR Cup Series season — and then a post-race disqualification made it all for naught anyway.
The hits keep on coming for Harvick in what was supposed to be a magical farewell season for the future NASCAR Hall of Famer. Just when it seemed Harvick was finally going to break through for one last moment of glory on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 1), Ryan Blaney edged him by 0.012 seconds to win the Yellawood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Then, roughly two hours after the finish, NASCAR announced the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford had failed post-race inspection thanks to the windshield fasteners.
Harvick and Blaney swapped the lead back and forth in the final laps at Talladega Superspeedway with each one’s respective line nosing ahead before the other one would surge back ahead.
But coming to the checkered flag, Harvick lost his pusher, as the No. 36 of Riley Herbst spun out as part of a big pileup. That allowed Blaney to edge ahead of Harvick for the victory by 0.012 seconds.
“The way it all cycled out was really — we were in a good spot until Riley [Herbst] got turned in the middle of the trioval there,” Harvick said. “And at that point, I was kind of all alone there with two of them pushing on the bottom.
“Just a little bit short.”
Had he won, Harvick would’ve scored a win in his final season and broken a winless streak that dates back to August of last year at Richmond Raceway. It also would’ve been his first win at Talladega or any superspeedway since 2010.
“I’m gonna smile regardless,” Harvick said. “It’s the last superspeedway race and the car’s rolling and we almost won. So I’m pretty happy.”
The No. 4 team had struggled as of late, with Harvick getting eliminated from the playoffs in the Round of 16 after having one of his and crew chief Rodney Childers’ worst ever efforts at Bristol Motor Speedway. But the Talladega speed didn’t come out of nowhere. The No. 4 as well as most of the Fords were among the fastest at the superspeedways all season long.
“Our cars drive really good,” Harvick said. “The Fords are really fast on the superspeedways. Ours drives well, pushes well, got pushed well, and we’ve been in contention in just about all of these races. You just gotta cycle through them to win some here and there. It’s a good way to end it.”
Had they won, then it would’ve been Childers’ first win ever at a superspeedway, despite having 40 career Cup wins.
“You never really know how these races will turn out,” Childers told Frontstretch. “Everybody did a really good job all weekend. All these speedway races all year long, we’ve had a shot at winning all of them and come real close in about all of them.
“We felt good about coming here and our chances. He [Harvick] kept it up there the whole race and did a really good job.”
Even though Harvick has not won this season and only has seven top fives all year, there have been moments where the No. 4 team nearly made a victory happen, including the spring race at Phoenix Raceway and the fall race at Darlington Raceway.
“We’ve had those days all year long,” Childers said. “Everybody keeps thinking that we haven’t, but we should’ve won about four or five races now. We’ve had really good cars, and this team’s done a really good job. It’s disappointing when you don’t win. We definitely don’t come here to finish second. […] Second still sucks.”
But that second place became a 38th and the driver who has carried SHR the past decade ended up being the only one who didn’t finish in the top 20 on Sunday. As for the recent uptick in performance from SHR as a whole, Harvick hadn’t really noticed.
“I hadn’t even paid attention, to be honest with you,” Harvick said. “I’ve just been trying to do my own thing, work well with the group of guys to get through the last several weeks.”
Blaney noted in his winner’s press conference that he apologized to fans with Harvick shirts on and said he hated beating Harvick in his final superspeedway race. But had Harvick won the race and then failed inspection, then Blaney would’ve still be credited with the win but without any of the celebration along with it.
“I just hope the fans and everybody appreciates that we’re racing as hard as we can to try to win and not just riding around,” Harvick said. “We hadn’t rode around all year and just wanted to go out and try to go out and put on a good show for the fans that showed up and each market to do the best that we can. Talladega fans always show up great for us, and today we just came up a little short.”
About the author
Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.
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