How ironic is it that Kevin Harvick was speaking out on Friday against Roush Fenway Racing and Ricky Stenhouse Jr’s former agency (Spire)? Harvick, thought that Spire didn’t represent his new client well and that RFR was making a big mistake for not only letting him go at seasons end, but the timing of the announcement too.
Then, two days later, Harvick had the Bank of America ROVAL 400 well in control as his lead over Martin Truex Jr. blossomed to over seven seconds late in the race. Unfortunately for him, Stenhouse brought out a caution on Lap 88 in Turn 11, negating that wide advantage.
Harvick, would have to endure four late race restarts, all in a span of 10 or so laps to hold onto the win on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. Instead, the cautions allowed Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman to keep climbing forward and to cool their tires which allowed them to leap frog Harvick with seven laps remaining.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was relegated to a third place finish instead. Harvick, finished ninth in this race last year and has three top eight finishes on road courses in 2019. Also, Harvick had three top eight finishes in as many tries in the opening round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs to go along with nine top eight finishes over his last 10 starts on the season.
He easily advances to the Round of 12.
His teammate Clint Bowyer didn’t have it so easy. Bowyer, entered this weekend on the bad side of the bubble. But, stage points put him on the good side as Bowyer scored 16 of them on Sunday. That was the most among all 16 playoff drivers.
Then, he’d bring his No. 14 Ford home fourth as he too advances to the second round. Bowyer, has some momentum too. This was his fifth top 10 finish in the last six races of the season.
Their third playoff eligible teammate of Aric Almirola was eliminated. The Florida native only finished 14th on Sunday as he had to pit late for new tires on his No. 10 Ford. While he’d make up some spots, it wasn’t enough.
Almirola, hasn’t scored a top 10 finish since Daytona in July and a top five since Phoenix in March.