Kevin Harvick Cuts Tire, Forced to Garage Midway in Opening Chase Roundby Kyle Pokrefky September 20, 2015 0 comments
JOLIET, Ill. — Contact on a Lap 135 restart with Jimmie Johnson inflicted a tire rub on Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet at Chicagoland Speedway halfway through Sunday’s MyAFibRisk.com 400.
After completing several laps with smoke billowing out of the left front of Harvick’s car, the defending Sprint Cup champion spun by himself entering Turn 3 on Lap 137 and backed his car into the wall.
Harvick wheeled his wounded race car to pit road where it underwent repairs with the two-time Chicagoland race winner waiting outside of it.
The initial contact between Harvick and Johnson was sparked as Johnson received a shove from Joey Logano on a restart and was forced below the apron to avoid hitting the rear bumper of the No. 4 car.
As Johnson moved up the track to return to the racing surface, he banged doors with Harvick with the resulting contact immediately causing smoke to pour out of Harvick’s car.
Harvick returned to the track on Lap 195 afters spending 58 laps behind the wall. Unable to make up any ground on the track, Harvick was credited with a 42nd-place finish.
“I got a fairly good restart,” Harvick said of the conditions that led to his cut tire. “I just had a little tire buzz at the end and shifted into third gear and I saw those guys coming on the apron.
“They must have gotten together and had a good run up. But I just held my ground and he just slammed into the side of the door like I wasn’t even there. So, the spotter was telling me four-wide and I guess he just figured that he’d come up the race track.”
Offering his take of the events, Johnson says that Harvick left him no room, and while Harvick may have done that out of defense, Johnson needed to find his way back to being above the apron.
“He didn’t leave me any space,” Johnson said. “He was pinning me down and I had to get back up on the track. I wouldn’t say that what he did was any different than other situations I’ve been in like that.
“When you are in his position, you want to get the inside car in a bad angle so they have to lift. I was fine with lifting, but I had to get back on the race track, so I worked my way back up on the track.”
The two drivers briefly talked about the incident following the race in a confrontation that escalated and then ended when Harvick shoved Johnson while in the motorhome lot.
Harvick will have two opportunities to continue his championship bid in the Challenger Round’s next races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway.
In 28 career races at New Hampshire and 28 career races at Dover, Harvick only has one race victory at either track – a 2006 New Hampshire win.
Photo Credit: Josh Hedges/Getty Images