Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones will begin their playoffs with DNFs after wrecking on Lap 147 Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The wreck started when Harvick lost his right-front tire in the middle of Turns 1 and 2 and shot into the outside wall.
Jones then ran into the back of Harvick.
Harvick, who won at Las Vegas in March, entered the playoff opener as the No. 2 seed and with a series-leading seven wins. He had led 14 laps.
“Well there was something wrong from the time we put the tires on,” Harvick told NBCSN. “It’s like Russian roulette every time you put these piece of crap tires on and try to drive around the race track. One time it’s tight, one time it’s loose, one time they’re blistered. We had a great car and then you put a set of tires on and you can’t even hardly make it through the field.”
Goodyear’s Stu Grant addressed the tire situation, saying Goodyear had “not had any complaints about inconsistent tires.”
“Actually our performance has been pretty darn consistent,” Grant continued. “I would have to say the conditions are extremely difficult aren’t they? The heat in the race track makes it very slippery and it makes it very important to get the car setup right. I think if you are off a little bit, the heat and the slippery race track will exaggerate that.”
Grant added: “It’s the same thing that we saw a little bit yesterday in practice. We saw a few right-front blisters and we’re talking about the inside shoulder on the right-front tire. We saw a couple of those yesterday in practice. We worked with the teams to try to get the load off the inside shoulder off the right front. That’s where the heat is. Everybody has been talking about the heat. Let’s face it, 100 degrees is way different than 60 degrees back in March.”
Jones is participating in the playoffs for the first time. He won the pole but had not led any laps.
“It’s unfortunate, we didn’t have the best handling DeWalt Camry today … but we were going to finish top 10 no matter what,” Jones told NBCSN. “Nothing Kevin can do and nothing we can do unfortunately. Not the situation we needed to be in.”
I didn’t say shifting.. I said a different shift code.. Car was great all weekend and tires looked great all weekend, different shift codes and was crap, then blew a tire.. GY does a great job for us all the time, but this one hurt.. On to Richmond.. 👊🏼 https://t.co/5VtKvcWH6I
Kyle Busch led a Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut in Friday’s first of two NASCAR Cup practices at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch paced the 40-car field with a top speed of 200.285 mph, followed by JGR teammates Martin Truex Jr. (200.200) in second, Erik Jones in fourth (200.156) and Denny Hamlin was seventh-fastest (200.044). Ryan Preece was third-fastest in a Chevrolet at 200.169 mph, while Ryan Newman rounded out the top five at 200.093 mph.
Now, KBM has gone north of the border for its latest addition to the fold, 17-year-old Canadian teenager Raphael Lessard.
Lessard, a native of Saint Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, is slated to drive the No. 46 Toyota Tundra in three Gander Outdoors Truck Series races for KBM this season: Martinsville (March 23), Dover (May 3) and Bristol (August 15). He turns 18 in July.
“Driving for KBM I will be assured of having one of the best vehicles in the Truck Series and that will allow me to go for the win every time out,” Lessard said in a media release. “KBM is a team of winners, and I intend to take full advantage of the great situation I find myself in.”
The move to Trucks is a promotion for Lessard, who competed for KBM’s Super Late Model Program in 2018. He captured two wins: the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol last May, and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Indiana) Speedway last July.
In 16 combined starts for KBM last season, Lessard recorded two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018 across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series.
“Raphael was really fast in our Super Late Models last season and added a couple of marquee wins to KBM’s resume,” team owner and NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Busch said in a media release. “We expect that he’ll be able to step right in and be competitive as he makes the jump to the next level.”