Mar 24, 2014, 7:19 PM EDT
Kevin Harvick has been the most consistently competitive of the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers so far this season. But ever since his victory earlier this month at Phoenix, Harvick has been left wanting for results.
In Las Vegas, he was a threat to win until his car suffered a wheel hub failure. Then at Bristol, a possible Top-5 result went out the window when his oil line broke with 50 laps to go – making him one of many lap leaders to find trouble in Thunder Valley.
Unfortunately for “Happy,” things didn’t turn out any better on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, where he saw another great run brought down by bad luck.
Harvick was holding steady in the Top 5 early on in the Auto Club 400 until his left-rear tire went down on the No. 4 Jimmy John’s-backed Chevrolet. To make matters worse, the tire then disintegrated enough to inflict noticeable damage to the car’s left-rear quarter panel.
Subsequent repairs sent him all the way to the back of the field, but Harvick’s car didn’t lose its pace and he was already back within the Top 5 as the race crossed the halfway mark.
But on Lap 139, Harvick was victimized again by a second left-rear tire failure that did even more damage to the car. This time, Harvick fell three laps off the pace through repairs, and was only able to make one of those laps up before finishing 36th at the checkered flag.
“It’s kind of the same story as the last few weeks,” he said. “We’ll have a really strong run going, and something happens and we don’t get the finish that we deserve. It’s really frustrating.
“I’m proud of the effort that the guys on this No. 4 team put in every week. It isn’t for lack of effort. It’s just unfortunate situations or part failures that have us trending in the wrong direction.”
The three consecutive poor results have sent Harvick from fourth in the championship following his win at Phoenix to 25th, at 97 points behind new leader Carl Edwards.
Still, that Phoenix triumph – which just about ensures him a chance to race for a title in the Chase – and his overall competitiveness should keep him from losing too much sleep.
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