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Harvick plays it safe in final laps, gets runner-up finish

Jun 16, 2013, 6:45 PM EDT

Quicken Loans 400 Getty Images

Kevin Harvick knew that a win wasn’t going to be in the cards for him on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway – even when Jimmie Johnson (running second at the time) suffered a flat tire with three laps left, popped the wall and went to the pits.

“My car started to shake really bad,” he said. “That was about the third set of tires that started to shake really bad on my car, and I just backed it down and let the 48 [Johnson] go [for second place] at that particular point. I wasn’t catching the 16 [winner Greg Biffle] and didn’t really feel it necessary to have a tire failure or an issue…

“So our best bet at that point was the 48 catches the 16 and something happening as those two guys were racing. But we just maintained and managed our gap between us and the 56 [Martin Truex Jr.] to just hold that track position and not have anything silly happen with the right front [tire] at the end.”

As a result, he came away with a big chunk of points thanks to his runner-up result at the Quicken Loans 400, which continues a hot stretch as of late for him. In the last seven races, Harvick has collected two wins, four Top-5s and six Top-10s with a 40th place result at Talladega last month as his only blemish.

Harvick admitted he wasn’t sure if he was going to have a solid afternoon in Michigan, believing he had “a 10th to 15th place car.” But thanks to adjustments from his crew and a more spread-out racing groove, he was able to move forward.

“You knew that we knew what we were fighting in traffic and what we were going to have to deal with, and the groove kind of spread out today – went from the center down – the bottom groove in 3 and 4 was fairly good,” said Harvick. “You could make some time there and move your car around if you needed to get around somebody.

“But [the crew] made a lot of little changes, and most of them the right way. We took the time in the first couple stops today to make some big adjustments on the car. Lost some awesome track position, but it paid off for us after that.”

Harvick moved up one position to fourth in the Sprint Cup standings.

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