Event: Ford EcoBoost 400 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 9th/4th (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd with 5,033 points
Champion: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80)
- Kevin Harvick started ninth, finished fourth.
- Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion came to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 38 for four tires and fuel.
- Harvick entered the top-five on lap 47 and the top-three on lap 58.
- The No. 4 team pitted at the end of the stage for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
- Started fourth, finished third.
- Harvick raced up to second at the start of Stage 2 and challenged Kyle Larson for the lead before falling back to third on lap 116.
- The Jimmy John’s Ford came to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 122 for four tires, fuel and a small adjustment.
- The No. 4 team came to pit road under caution on lap 147 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to correct a tight-handling car.
- The pit crew gained Harvick a position on pit road to restart in second on lap 150.
- The No. 4 team came to pit road at the conclusion of Stage 2 for four tires, fuel and several adjustments.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):
- Started fourth and finished fourth.
- The Jimmy John’s Ford suffered right-front fender damage from hitting debris on lap 180 while racing in fourth.
- The team came to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 199 for four tires, fuel and an attempt to repair the fender. The No. 18 stayed out to attempt a different strategy, causing the Jimmy John’s Ford to briefly fall a lap down.
- Harvick raced his way back to the lead lap on lap 208, racing in the eighth position and advancing to second by lap 228.
- The team came to pit road under caution on lap 228 for tires, fuel and repairs and restarted second on lap 234.
- The Jimmy John’s Ford battled for the lead following the restart before falling back to fourth by the checkered flag.
- Harvick scored his 14th top-five and 23rd top-10 finish of 2017.
- This was Harvick’s ninth top-five and 15th top-10 finish in 17 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead.
- There were five caution periods for a total of 26 laps.
- Only 12 of the 39 drivers in the Ford EcoBoost 400 finished on the lead lap.
- In winning the Ford EcoBoost 400, Martin Truex Jr. captured the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for the first time in his career, outdueling fellow 2017 Championship 4 contenders Kyle Busch, Harvick and Brad Keselowski. Truex is the 32nd different Cup Series champion.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We just got really loose and then got a hole in the nose and it started to get tight in. We got that fixed. We were pretty good on the next-to-last run, and we were just really loose on the last run. I want to thank everybody on my Jimmy John’s, Busch Ford for everything they’ve done. It was great to have a chance. We were in the mix all day. Didn’t quite have what we needed at the end. I want to thank Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Morton Building, Textron, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. Thank you guys for everything you did all year. We’ll be back.”
Give us a sense of what an accomplishment this year was.
“Well, I think when you look at it from the inside out and all the work that everybody went through, the preparation that we went through to get to these playoffs was second to none. It was a championship effort. Just came up a little bit short. Congratulations to Martin (Truex Jr.). Those guys have been the dominant car all year. To go win the race and make it happen at the end, they were able to get their car better and win the championship.”
Take us through the last stint.
“I was just really loose the whole last run. When it started to get dark we started to get tight in the corner, and then we got a hole in the nose. We got that fixed and just couldn’t quite get it where we needed to be to make good times. Some runs we fell off. Some runs we were tight on entry. There at the end we were just too loose.”
The 2018 season kicks off Feb. 10-18 with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 60th Daytona 500, the first points-paying race of the season, is scheduled for Feb. 18 and will be broadcast live on FOX.