If Kevin Harvick could be considered in a slump – which is difficult for the driver leading the Sprint Cup Series points standings – it ended on Sunday.
Prior to Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Harvick – who already has two wins this season and is locked in the championship Chase – hadn’t led a lap in the past three races.
Although he had finished no worse than eighth in that span, his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team just wasn’t out front like it had been most of the season.
That changed Sunday as Harvick led 59 of the 301 laps – third-most in the race – and was in the hunt for the victory to the end when he finished third.
“I think we had the right strategy, just a little miscue on the last pit stop. Those guys have done great all year,” Harvick said. “It just took me a little longer to get around a couple of those cars and I lost the track position.”
On the last round of pit stops on Lap 252, Harvick was the first car off pit road who took four new tires, while those in front of him took two, but a slow stop left him in seventh on the restart.
It took some time for Harvick to make up some of the lost ground.
“Well, I definitely think that track position didn’t help us, but I think four tires was the right call,” he said. “I’m just really proud of my guys for the whole weekend.
“We didn’t start off well on Friday and were able to really get our car going. I had a really good car during the race.”
Harvick continues to lead the series standings and holds a 69-point advantage over Joey Logano.
Asked if Sunday’s results were encouraging for when his team returns in late September for the Chase race at New Hampshire, Harvick was upbeat.
“I think we have to work on our long run speed just a little bit, but still that was probably our biggest benefit today, but I think we can be better,” he said.