Dominance often has been followed by disappointment for Kevin Harvick since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing, and Sunday’s Auto Club 400 was another heartbreaking example.
Harvick led a race-high 142 of 205 laps, but his No. 4 Chevrolet was foiled on an overtime restart.
After a pit stop during the final caution dropped him to second from the lead, Harvick still seemed in the catbird seat starting inside of Denny Hamlin on the last restart. Hamlin got a poor jump on the outside lane, and Harvick moved into first shortly after the green.
But Jimmie Johnson, whose No. 48 Chevy restarted in third directly behind Harvick, swooped low and into first entering the third turn. Johnson led the final two laps for his second victory of the season and record sixth at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
“It was the worst it’s taken off on restarts,” Harvick said. “We weren’t very good on restarts for four to five laps unless we were all by ourselves. (Johnson) was able to hang with us. We just weren’t able to drive it in like I needed to, didn’t have the front tires turning and the back wouldn’t grip.
“Still a good day for us. We’ll keep at it.”
In 77 starts with Stewart-Haas, this was the 24th in which Harvick led the most laps – and of those races, Fontana marked the 16th he hadn’t won.
Harvick has led the most laps in three of five races this season, winning last week at Phoenix International Raceway but finishing sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway after pacing 131 of 330 laps.