Last year, Stewart-Haas Racing elected for short run, qualifying pace throughout the Vegas playoff weekend. They’d qualify 1-2-3-4 as a result. But, the clean air didn’t help as three of the four would finish 13th or worse.
This past spring weekend, SHR went for good all around speed. Harvick, was quickest on the 10 lap average report in final practice. Aric Almirola was third and second on five lap speeds, first and 10th on 10 lap averages and sixth on 15 laps. Clint Bowyer was also sixth and fifth on five lap runs and sixth on 10 laps.
Unfortunately, the long run pace to go with the short run speed didn’t help. Harvick, despite leading a race-high 92 of 267 laps was their top finisher in eighth. While he led all of those laps, his car faded as a run went on, which was surprising. He was third in Stage 1 and sixth in Stage 2.
Almirola, was only 21st in the spring race while Bowyer was 12th. Rookie Cole Custer was only 19th.
8-12-19-21. Not a good day for SHR.
Same could be said for the playoff race. Harvick was tops again in 10th as he said his car was on the splitter all night. He expected to be a bit off anyways as they have struggled on this track as of late so they brought a new car to it.
“We just missed everything tonight,” Harvicksaid. “The car just didn’t drive good. We were slow on pit road and that was pretty much it. We just got buried in the field there.”
Almirola, was the opposite. He was confident. He was a non factor all night and finished just 17th.
“Our mile-and-a-half stuff has been really good lately,” said Almirola. “We ran really good at Kentucky, Texas and we’ve just been solid, so I came in here with a lot of confidence. I thought we would come here and run good. The guys have been working really hard on the cars back at the shop and we just missed it tonight. We were off in speed, off in handling, we were not very good at all on pit road. We didn’t do a lot of things right myself included, so it was just a bad night. Nothing went the way it was supposed to go. We’ve got to be better than that. You can’t transfer through these rounds running that poorly, so we’ll go to Talladega and see if we can’t pull one out of our hat.”
Clint Bowyer was 12th with Cole Custer coming home in 16th.
“I was more worried about this race than I am the next two,” said Bowyer. “We didn’t get out of here as good as I wanted to. Obviously, the 1 car was not a car that we needed to win a race. It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. Him winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out. It wasn’t near as bad as it could have been. The car was nuclear meltdown and I was lucky to finish, so 20 points is pretty easy to overcome at a track like Talladega that’s for sure.”