Kevin Harvick comes up short again in quest for Pocono victory

By Kyle Magda - For Times Leader
Kevin Harvick drives through Turn 1 during Sunday race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond. He finished fourth. - Derik Hamilton | AP photo

LONG POND — Kevin Harvick proved once again he had the fastest car on the track during Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.

But speed was not enough to take the veteran driver into Victory Lane at Long Pond.

One week after winning at Loudon, Harvick initially won the pole Saturday for the Gander Outdoors 400 until his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford failed post-qualifying tech, which moved the 2014 Cup champ back in the starting grid.

He wasted little time in coming up to the front, grabbing the lead on lap 65, and winning the second stage of the event before Harvick ran into some trouble and lost the lead.

The chances of an elusive Pocono victory became much harder and he wasn’t able to make it back up front, finishing in fourth position at the checkered flag.

“Just a really fast Mobil 1 Ford,” Harvick said. “We kept having to go to the back and made a good race out of it. It’s hard to swallow having a car like that and not winning, but that’s usually how it goes when you have a day where your car’s that fast. Just ran out of laps.”

Harvick collided with Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola on pit road, forcing the No. 4 team to make repairs to the left-rear, forcing him to start deep in the field again for the final 39 laps.

Harvick leaves Pocono Raceway in 2018 with a pair of fourth-place finishes.

Suarez, Bowman have career-best days

Pole-sitter Daniel Suarez gave teammate and race-winner Kyle Busch a run for his money on the race’s final restart when Busch slightly spun his tires, allowing Suarez a chance to wrestle the lead away for his first-career victory.

Erik Jones dove below Suarez’s No. 19 Toyota, making it three-wide while Busch got a great run off Turn 1 to drive away from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.

However, Suarez settled in second for a career-best finish — in just a year-and-a-half of racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“The last restart it was very good on my side,” Suarez said. “I was side drafting the 18 very well. I was even with him, and because we were even, the 20 was coming with a big run, and when I saw him coming, I started blocking him but instead of pushing me he decided to try to take the lead, as well, and after that obviously it was — I put myself in attack mode but defense mode at the same time.”

“I knew it was going to be a little bit difficult, but we were able to recover the second place.”

A few other drivers also had career runs Sunday as Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman finished third in the No. 88 Axalta/All Pro-Teachers Chevrolet.

Bowman also sported the colors of the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles Sunday as part of the teachers program.

“I felt like our car was really solid on restarts all day,” Bowman said. “Anytime you restart on the outside here you can kind of take advantage of some people into the Tunnel (Turn). We were able to do that. That last restart wasn’t the best I couldn’t get to Kyle’s (Busch) rear bumper. I think we had some gear ratio differences there, but still a good solid day.”

Rookie driver William Byron led 10 laps and recorded a sixth-place run, the best of his short Cup career. Byron won the Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono in 2016 in an all-out romp for one of his seven wins that season.

Kevin Harvick drives through Turn 1 during Sunday race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond. He finished fourth.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Harvick-Pocono.jpgKevin Harvick drives through Turn 1 during Sunday race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond. He finished fourth. Derik Hamilton | AP photo

By Kyle Magda

For Times Leader

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports