Harvick, Smith Race to Top-10 Finishes at Darlington

JR Motorsports | 9/6/2015

Armour Chase Elliott Darlington Kevin Harvick NAPA News Race Report Regan Smith TaxSlayer XFINITY Series

Kevin Harvick finished fourth in Saturday afternoon's race at Darlington Raceway while Regan Smith finished ninth and Chase Elliott finished 24th after suffering from a mechanical issue late in the race.

Race 24 of 33: VFW Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway

Track Specs: 1.366-mile oval / 147 laps

Weather: Mostly sunny; 86 deg.

Race Winner: Denny Hamlin

Harvick’s finish: 4th

Smith’s Finish: 9th

Elliott’s finish: 24th

Kevin Harvick

With his No. 88 Armour Sandwich Creations Chevrolet driving great on long runs, Kevin Harvick traded the lead back and forth with Denny Hamlin’s No. 20 machine for the majority of Saturday’s VFW Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway. Harvick led 16 of 147 circuits of the 1.366-mile oval before ultimately finishing fourth in his 10th NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) start this season, scoring his fourth top-five finish and bringing his career total to 175. 

Harvick qualified ninth, but didn’t stay there for long. By the lap-25 competition caution, he had driven the Armour Sandwich Creations Chevy up to third. He reported that the No. 88 machine was lacking a bit of rear grip, so crew chief Dave Elenz called for track bar and air pressure adjustments during the four-tire stop. The Armour crew gained Harvick a spot on pit road and after restarting second, the two-time NXS champion took the lead for the first time within a lap of receiving the green flag. He held onto the lead for five laps before surrendering it to Hamlin, whose No. 20 was extremely quick on short runs.

It wasn’t long before Harvick was able to mount another challenge for Hamlin, and the driver of the No. 88 resumed the lead on lap 49. Harvick was only able to hang on for two laps, reporting that his Chevrolet Camaro still lacked rear grip on corner exit. The second and final caution flag flew on lap 71, and Harvick came to pit road on the following lap for four fresh Goodyear tires, fuel and another round of adjustments.

Harvick restarted second on lap 75, and took the lead for the third and final time on lap 122 after Hamlin came to pit road to make his final stop. Harvick gave up the lead when he brought the No. 88 to pit road nine laps later. He rejoined the field in the ninth position as pit stops continued cycling through, but the shortened final run to the checkered didn’t give Harvick enough time to mount a forward charge on those that stopped before him, so he settled for a fourth-place result.

Hamlin went on to win the race, earning his third NXS victory of the season, and Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Harvick and Chris Buescher rounded out the top five.

Kevin Harvick, driver No. 88 Armour Sandwich Creations team

“Our Armour Chevrolet was really good today, just not quite as strong as the 20, especially at the beginning of a run. We could chase him (Hamlin) back down on the long run, but the short run there at the end didn’t line up for us. I didn’t get onto pit road good on the last run, we stayed out a couple extra laps thinking there might be a caution, and just didn’t catch traffic right. It just didn’t line up there at the end and we would’ve needed it all to go right to beat the 20. All in all, I’m proud of everybody at JRM for the effort they put into making the cars better. They did a good job and we were competitive today with a shot at the win. I’m having a lot of fun here at Darlington this weekend with the cars sliding around – I love this race being during the day.”

Regan Smith

Despite an early run to the top five, Regan Smith and the TaxSlayer Bowl Chevrolet had to settle for a top-10 finish in the VFW Help a Hero 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series event at historic Darlington Raceway.

Starting from eighth place, Smith used a great initial start to jump up to the fourth spot by lap 10 and held there until the competition caution flag waved on lap 25. A solid pit stop for four tires, fuel and an adjustment put him back on track with a chance to move higher. On the restart, however, he lost a spot to a charging Kyle Busch and settled into fifth for the next green-flag run.

Meanwhile, the front end of the TaxSlayer Bowl Camaro was getting tighter and tighter, and Smith started to lose time in turns one and two. That would play a part in the next on-track battle, which happened to be with point leader Chris Buescher. After many laps of probing, Buescher finally got past on the 44th lap. It went back and forth between the two, and with a caution sandwiched in, the two battled until lap 83, when Buescher got past to stay.

Meanwhile, Smith was still struggling with a tight condition, which was costing him time. Crew chief Jason Burdett made more adjustments, but it wasn’t enough to move Smith forward in the running order. Smith moved back into the top five as the laps wound down and other competitors pitted for fuel to make it to the end, but still had to come to pit road for his own strop. He did so with 12 laps left in the 147-lap event, returning in 11th place. He passed two more cars in the time remaining to earn his 17th top-10 finish in 24 races.

The result kept Smith and the TaxSlayer Bowl team in fourth place in points, 54 behind Buescher with nine races remaining.

Denny Hamlin won the race, followed by Busch, rookie Daniel Suarez, JRM teammate Kevin Harvick and Buescher.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 TaxSlayer Bowl team

“We ran as hard as we could today, and we were around the top four or five early on, but the more the run went on, the tighter I got. That really hindered my ability to gain spots, and we never could get the tight condition out of it. We ran in the top 10 all day, but could never quite get far enough ahead to challenge for the top five and the victory. Darlington is my favorite track, and I was hoping we could give the TaxSlayer Bowl Chevrolet a trip to Victory Lane today. We’ll try to do that again next week at Richmond.”

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, finished 24th in Saturday’s VFW Help a Hero 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) race at Darlington Raceway.  With 29 laps to go, Elliott told crew chief Ernie Cope his NAPA Chevrolet was sputtering, which was costing him positions on the race track.  Elliott sits third in the championship standings, 35 points outside of first-place with nine races remaining in the 2015 NXS season.  Denny Hamlin led four times for a race-high 117 laps on his way to claiming his 14th career NXS victory.

After qualifying seventh earlier in the day, Elliott was able to maintain a steady pace inside the top-10, just as a competition caution came on lap 25.  Elliott’s NAPA pit crew did an outstanding job all day long, picking up track position for the 19-year-old Dawsonville, Ga. native when he needed it most, specifically during the team’s first stop for a chassis adjustment, four tires and fuel on lap 26.  The crew moved Elliott forward two positions after a blistering stop to put him ninth on the ensuing lap-31 restart.

The second-year NXS driver battled a very tight race car all afternoon.  Elliott told Cope he wasn’t able to gain much due to the tightness of his Chevrolet’s front end, as it would just plow through each turn of the 1.366-mile oval.  The NAPA crew shined once again on pit road for Elliott, bumping him a position as the field turned green on lap 76.

As the race came to a close, so did Elliott’s fortune.  He developed a mechanical issue costing him position on the race track.  Elliott grinded out the last remaining laps, fighting off a potential devastating finish to claim 24th and stay within the championship hunt.  Hamlin bested Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Kevin Harvick and Chris Buescher for his third NXS victory in 2015.

Chase Elliott, driver No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team

“It was a tough blow today for our NAPA AUTO PARTS team at Darlington.  I knew something wasn’t right on our car with about 30 laps to go, as I continued to fall back.  All day long I was struggling with a tightness issue that just never went away.  It was odd, because we didn’t have that issue in practice.  We are going to have to dig deep in these last few races.  We aren’t out of this thing, we just have to keep our focus on the last nine races and that starts next week at Richmond – where I’m confident we’ll show up fighting for a win.”

 

 

No. 88 Armour Sandwich Creations

Chevrolet Camaro

Kevin Harvick

Start

9th

Finish

4th

Laps Completed (Led)

147 of 147 (16)

Points (Bonus)

41 (1)

Standings (from leader)

10th (-179)

Status

Running

 

 

No. 7 TaxSlayer Bowl Chevrolet Camaro

Regan Smith 

Start

8th 

Finish

9st   

Laps Completed (Led)

147 of 147 (0)

Points (Bonus)

35 (0)

Standings (from leader)

4th (-54)

Status

Running

 

 

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS

Chevrolet Camaro

Chase Elliott

Start

7th

Finish

24th

Laps Completed (Led)

144 of 147 (0)

Points (Bonus)

20 (0)

Standings (from leader)

3rd (-35)

Status

Running 

Articles

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • May 23 01:00 PM ET
    Alsco 300 at CharlotteCharlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 30 01:00 PM ET
    Mid-Ohio 170Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  • June 6 01:30 PM ET
    LTi Printing 250Michigan International Speedway
  • June 13 08:30 PM ET
    Iowa 250Iowa Speedway
  • June 20 04:00 PM ET
    Chicagoland 300Chicagoland Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After LS Tractor 200

Phoenix Raceway | 3/7/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Harrison Burton #1760
2Chase Briscoe173-3
3Austin Cindric155-21
4Brandon Jones148-28
5Ross Chastain146-30
6Noah Gragson143-33
7Ryan Sieg143-33
8Justin Haley140-36
9Justin Allgaier138-38
10Michael Annett119-57