Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that Kevin Harvick “had the field covered” Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
Yet, instead of celebrating, Harvick watched a race slip away with a flat tire.
The result was a 29th-place finish for Harvick, who led 63 of the 138 laps run before rain ended the race early.
Harvick’s problems began when he gave up the lead to pit on Lap 120. Shortly after returning to the track, he radioed his crew that he had a flat tire and had to pit again. A lug nut hit the valve stem, causing the tire to lose air.
“I’m not real sure where that lug nut came from (because) four were on it when you came in,’’ crew chief Rodney Childers told Harvick on the radio.
A caution for debris trapped Harvick two laps down, leaving him with no chance for the series points leader to win.
While he has 10 top-two finishes in the first 15 races of the season, Harvick has not won in the past 11 races despite often having one of the strongest cars most weekends.
Harvick finished second last weekend at Pocono but struggled with restarts in third gear, allowing Martin Truex Jr. to pull away for the win. Harvick finished second at Dover two weeks ago and also said he felt they struggled on restarts. Harvick finished second at Kansas last month when he pitted with 10 laps to go. Jimmie Johnson stayed out and won.
Harvick’s last Sprint Cup victory came March 15 at Phoenix International Raceway.