Right choice: Car selection proves key for Harvick in Chase

1 Comment

After seeing his car lead more than 80 percent of the laps in the last two races combined and winning Sunday at Dover International Speedway, crew chief Rodney Childers says his team faces challenges in the second round of the Chase.

Strong cars that were to be saved for later in the Chase were used in the first round after Harvick finished 42nd at Chicagoland Speedway and all but needed a win to advance. He nearly scored that victory at New Hampshire before running out of fuel with three laps to go while leading. Harvick came back to triumph at Dover, leading 355 of 400 laps.

“We’ve got a good race team, and we’ve got good cars sitting there, but definitely have had to show more the past two weeks than what we really wanted to,’’ Childers said.

He admitted after Dover that he wasn’t sure what car he would use for Saturday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on NBC.

The team revealed its choice Monday. Harvick will drive the car he finished fifth with in last month’s Southern 500. That chassis is new and the Darlington race was its first start. Harvick led 44 laps.

Saving the right cars for the right tracks in the Chase is a key factor. Some teams do not like to publicly disclose what cars they’re running. Teams rarely run the same car back-to-back weekends – especially if that car must go to the NASCAR R&D Center on Tuesday morning for additional technical inspection after a race weekend. Often there isn’t enough time to get a car ready to run the following weekend if it ran the previous weekend.

Teams often debut new cars in the Chase or run cars that have been used in one race. A newer car, in theory, is a better car since teams learn more with each one they build.

Harvick said he doesn’t mind what car his team runs.

“I’ve been here for two years, and I have no idea which cars I’ve raced,’’ Harvick said after his Dover win. “Usually every time I get in them, they’re fast, so I don’t even ask.’’