If recent history held up, Saturday’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway was Kevin Harvick’s to win.
After all, he and Jimmie Johnson had taken turns winning the last six races at 1.5-mile tracks, and it was Harvick’s turn in the rotation.
It didn’t quite work out. Harvick finished second – behind Johnson, naturally.
Harvick still leaves Kansas Speedway 46 points clear of Martin Truex Jr. for the top spot in the points standings.
It was his 10th top-10 finish this season, and his ninth top-10 finish in 19 races at Kansas Speedway. He’s also the first driver to lead 1,000 laps this season.
“It’s hard to complain about that,” Harvick said with a smile.
The race ended well for Harvick, but it took a while to get things dialed in.
“We were just off of the 78 (Truex Jr.) there at the beginning of the race and we really just couldn’t get a handle on the car,” Harvick said. “We made some great adjustments on that green flag pit stop… and the car really came to life.”
Harvick led for 53 laps and was in front as the race wound down. The ninth caution of the night slowed things down, and Harvik was among the cars that decided to take one final pit stop.
He took two tires, and exited the pits sixth. The race went green with six laps to go, and Harvick couldn’t get back to the front of the field.
“In the end the 48 (Johnson) and 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) didn’t have the speed and they gambled and were able to get enough cars between us that we didn’t have the speed to get around them,” Harvick said.
The decision to pit was a coin flip. This one didn’t work out for Harvick, but many others have.
“I’m not going to be mad. I’ve been on the other side of this deal where the cars aren’t running good and you don’t have a chance to win. We’ve won a championship on pit calls and tires and everything fell our way,” Harvick said. “We’ve had a lot of things go our way and work out, and running up front and having a chance to win is almost harder to win races when you’re leading races.”
The thud of post-race fireworks reverberated through the media center while Harvik spoke after the race. He just missed out celebrating another victory, but he’ll still head to next week’s race in Charlotte with a smile.
“It’s no frustration,” Harvick said. “Just keep going at it.”