In a race that was sponsored by an adjacent casino (Hollywood Casino 400), Kevin Harvick wound up with three losing hands in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway.
Things were going along fairly well in the first half of the race for the defending Sprint Cup champ, including leading 21 laps.
But on a pit stop on Lap 214, a pit road penalty befell Harvick when he was assessed a stop-and-go violation for removing equipment from his pit area.
Or to put it more clearly, he left his pit stall, dragging his gas can with him before it fell off outside the pit stall.
That was the first bad hand Harvick was dealt.
On Lap 217, Harvick returned to pit road to serve his penalty, only to have the shifter handle break, forcing him to shift with some difficultly for the remainder of the race.
That was bad hand No. 2.
“It was just really hard to shift from second to third (gear) just because there was nothing to grab onto for leverage,” he said. “But in the end the car vibrated all day. I’m lucky something else didn’t break.”
So, Harvick came onto pit road in fourth position on Lap 214 and wound up 22nd and a lap down by the time he served his penalty.
That was the third and final bad hand he was dealt. Instead of a top-five or top-10 finish, he wound up a disappointing 16th.
At the same time, they’re only six points ahead of the current cut-off line (Kyle Busch is ranked ninth).
“We are lucky to come out of it as good as we did,” Harvick said afterward. “We didn’t have a great weekend. A lot of things falling on and off and now we’ve got to go to Talladega and have a good week.”
Harvick tried to find a bright spot.
“All-in-all it could have been a lot worse,” he said. “Everybody kept digging.”