Tony Stewart: Pit stop issues have kept Kevin Harvick from winning ‘half the races’

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If Tony Stewart had his way, Kevin Harvick wouldn’t need a pit crew.

“I think we could have won half the races this year if we didn’t have to pit,” Stewart said Wednesday at his Smoke Show charity event at Texas Motor Speedway.

The No. 4 team’s most recent mishap on pit road occurred Sunday at Dover. A valve stem was knocked off a tire during a Lap 321 pit stop and forced Harvick to pit a second time. That kept Harvick from sweeping both stages and winning after he led a race-high 286 laps. Harvick finished sixth.

“I mean, we got a good group of guys, and I think the change in the pit guns this year has really been hard on our guys,” Stewart said.

The Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner referenced the move by NASCAR to go to a spec pit gun this year over guns built by teams. The guns have garnered criticism from crew chiefs and drivers throughout the season, including Harvick.

“It’s much harder than people think,” Stewart said. “I mean people don’t understand that by slowing the guns down, you would think it would make it easier on these guys because they don’t have to go as fast.

“But the problem is they’re so used to being in time and being at a certain pace that now you’ve got to slow these guys down, and that’s why you see loose wheels because they’re used to moving their hands a lot faster and that pattern being faster. Now the guns can’t keep up with what we’re doing, so we have to slow our guys down to make sure that we don’t have those mistakes. That’s the hardest part.”

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But Stewart has no interest in going back to the old way of things.

“Trust me, the amount of money that the teams were spending developing their own guns was through the roof and it was stupid,” he said. “That was a very smart move by NASCAR to knock that part down. You know, they want the racing to be on the race track and that’s what we want too, so their goal with that was the right goal. Now we just got to slow our guys down enough to make sure they get each one of them tight.”

Dover’s mishap – which kept Harvick from winning for the first time in seven races – was the latest occurrence of a pit miscue undercutting Harvick’s race-winning speed.

In April at Texas, Harvick led 87 laps but endured a jack issue on pit road (Lap 129) and a penalty for too many crew members over the wall (Lap 237) before finishing second.

Harvick led at the final pit stop at Chicagoland but was beat off pit road by Kyle Busch, who went on to win. A few weeks later, SHR made pit crew changes to all four of its teams after Clint Bowyer expressed frustration with his group at Kentucky.

In the Brickyard 400 last month, Harvick was penalized for an uncontrolled tire penalty on Lap 10. On Lap 30, he had to pit a second time after a pit gun failed. On Lap 90, he had to pit from the lead for four tires to deal with a vibration. He placed fourth.

 

NASCAR drivers play in the snow

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Charlotte, N.C. gets an average of slightly more than four inches of snowfall per year, so when a rare winter storm rolls in and dumps 10 or more inches in spots, NASCAR drivers and their families take advantage of the event.

 

Xfinity, Truck series banquet highlights

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On Saturday night, The Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series gathered for their awards banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Here are some highlights from the banquet:

Xfinity Series

Tyler Reddick was crowned the Xfinity driver champion with Stewart-Haas Racing taking the owners championship.

Cole Custer finished second, Daniel Hemric was third and Christopher Bell finished fourth.

Camping World Truck Series

Brett Moffitt and owner Hattori Racing Enterprises grabbed the top spot in the Truck series.

Noah Gragson finished second with Justin Haley third and Johnny Sauter fourth.

 

Joey Gase weds Caitlin Himmelsbach

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Joey Gase announced his wedding with Caitlin Himmelsbach Sunday morning, saying: “It’s now official! Looking forward to spending the rest of my life with Caitlin Gase.”

Their engagement was announced in February 2017.

In 2018, Gase ran full-time in the Xfinity series with three 15th-place finishes in the fall (Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Kansas) as his best results. He competed in eight Cup races – mostly with StarCom Racing – and scored a best of 18th at Talladega in October.

Full-time Cup drivers with longest winless streaks ahead of 2019

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The 2018 Cup season was partially defined by streak busters.

Six drivers ended winless streaks of 50 or more races, including Clint Bowyer snapping a 190-race winless streak in March at Martinsville.

Aric Almirola also ended a multi-season winless streak when he won at Talladega, earning his first win since 2014.

The 2018 season was also defined by surprising drivers going winless, including seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Who has the longest winless streaks ahead of the 2019 season?

The following list is made up of drivers who are confirmed to compete full-time in 2019 and who did not win in 2018 but have won previously.

Should Jamie McMurray accept an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to race in the Daytona 500, it’ll be his 185th start since his last points win (Oct. 20, 2013 at Talladega).

Paul Menard – 268 starts (July 31, 2011 at Indianapolis; Only Cup win)

David Ragan – 206 starts (May 5, 2013 at Talladega; Second Cup win)

Chris Buescher – 87 starts (Aug. 1, 2016 at Pocono; Only Cup win)

Ryan Newman – 68 starts (March 13, 2017 at ISM Raceway)

Jimmie Johnson – 59 starts (June 4, 2017 at Dover; went winless for first time in Cup career in 2017)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 55 starts (July 1, 2017 at Daytona; Second Cup win)

Denny Hamlin – 47 starts (Sept. 3, 2017 at Darlington; went winless for first time in career in 2017)

Kyle Larson – 46 starts (Sept. 9, 2017 at Richmond)