Event: Martinsville 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 4th/6th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd (248 points, 25 out of first)
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):
● Harvick started fourth and finished 11th.
● Settled into sixth place after 15 laps, but soon grabbed fifth when he passed polesitter Joey Logano on lap 19.
● “Way too loose,” said Harvick on lap 32 after teammate Clint Bowyer got by to take fifth.
● Caution on lap 68 allowed Harvick to bring his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang to the attention of his pit crew, where he got four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
● Harvick restarted in eighth, but by lap 100 had dropped to ninth.
● “As soon as I let off the brake, it goes sideways,” said Harvick on lap 104.
● Pitted for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment at the conclusion of the stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):
● Started 11th and finished seventh, collecting four bonus points.
● Climbed back up to ninth following a caution on lap 147.
● Harvick radioed on lap 200 that he was “loose off (the corner), but getting better.”
● Held steady in seventh place through the end of the stage.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel at the end of the stage. Only adjustment was to tire pressures.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261-500):
● Started 11th and finished sixth.
● Despite emerging from the pits in 11th place, Harvick drove his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang up to sixth by lap 291.
● Caution on lap 313 sent Harvick to the pits for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment to tighten up his racecar. Remained in sixth place for the lap-319 restart.
● Stayed in sixth through caution on lap 374, whereupon Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and another right-rear wedge adjustment.
● The Mobil 1 pit crew picked up one spot on pit road, sending Harvick back out in fifth for the lap-379 restart.
● Battled door-to-door with the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin, with Hamlin getting past on lap 458, dropping Harvick to sixth.
● Maintained sixth place through the end of the race.
● Harvick earned his fifth top-10 of the season and his 18th top-10 in 36 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.
● Brad Keselowski won the Martinsville 500 to score his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .594 of a second.
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 56 laps.
● Twenty of the 36 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Busch leaves Martinsville as the championship leader with a 21-point advantage over second-place Hamlin.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“It was an OK day for us. I think as you look at our Martinsville stuff, it’s been hit or miss. I feel like I was a little better than the 11 (Hamlin) and the 12 (Ryan Blaney), but you’ve got to be able to get by them on the restarts. We just never could get the car right all day and be able to let off the brake and roll to the center of the corner. I couldn’t quite get to the throttle like I needed to and kind of just, I don’t know, we could kind of hold our ground on the restarts, but not really gain anything, and track position was a big deal. It was definitely not what we wanted, but not a bad day for us at Martinsville.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.