Everyone knows one of the most important parts of the race is the closing laps, drivers don’t need any confusion during this time, but that doesn’t always seem to happen.
Brad Keselowski seemed to have dominated more than half of tonight’s race, forcing drivers like Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Kevin Harvick to fight for any position behind that treasured spot of first.
Out of most drivers racing behind Keselowski, Harvick seemed to have the better car. Riding in second the majority of the time, Harvick’s crew knew they couldn’t make any mistakes in hopes that they could take over first from Keselowski. However, all of this quickly changed with just 15 laps to go.
As in most cases this year, fuel became a huge factor. The Feed The Children 300 at the Kentucky Speedway would set up a finish very similar to what we have seen from her sister tracks of Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas, and Las Vegas, teams had to conserve any fuel that they could muster.
Most race teams decided to pit without about 67 laps to go, putting the majority of teams five to six laps shy on their fuel runs. In these modern times, NASCAR crews are able to formulate a plan to save just enough fuel to finish the race, but sometimes that is not always a guarantee.
David Hyder, Harvick’s Nationwide series crew chief, had made the plans for Harvick to come down pit road with just a few laps left for a splash ‘n go, in hopes of not losing too much ground. When Harvick was set to pit, Hyder began to shout on the team’s headset “STAY OUT, STAY OUT”. Without expecting this before, Harvick stayed on the race track to keep his momentum. Apparently Hyder had heard that NASCAR was debating on whether to throw the caution out or not, and Hyder didn’t want Harvick to be stuck on pit road if they were going to bring out the yellow.
Out of this slightly dramatic moment, Harvick did hold on to second place, but that doesn’t mean he was happy with his team’s communication. ”We had a fast car all night” said Harvick, “Brad was a little bit better. I was not real happy with how the race was managed tonight”.
When Harvick was asked what could have been done differently, Harvick shrugged his shoulders and said ”I should have just done what I wanted to do, it would have been easier”.
If it wasn’t for that lack of communication, would Harvick had been able to catch Keselowski? That question will forever burn inside Harvick, as he knows he just let one get away from him.