DOVER, Del. - Kevin Harvick brought his Ford Mustang across in fourth place, best among the Blue Ovals on a hard-luck day in the shadows of the Dover Downs Casino at Dover International Speedway Sunday afternoon.
Harvick was the best Ford all afternoon as just two Mustangs finished inside the top-10 as Harvick was joined by Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer (10th).
Harvick’s fourth-place finish was a workman-like effort. He didn’t lead any laps, but he nabbed a good points day to give him a nice buffer in the playoff standings — especially considering the problems of others — heading to Talladega. The finish also marked his sixth straight top-seven finish this season and his 10th such finish in the past 11 races.
Brad Keselowski (11th), Paul Menard (12th), Daniel Suarez (14th), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (16th) and Aric Almirola (17th) all finished inside the top-20.
The day started ominously for Joey Logano who was forced to the garage before the green flag even flew. The 22 car noticed issues on the warm-up laps with the rear end of his machine and had to take the car down pit road and eventually to the garage for 25 laps before getting on the track. A broken rear axle was the culprit, relegating Logano to a 34th place finish.
The 34th-place finish leaves the reigning champion squarely on the playoff cutline since William Byron owns the better finish in this round so far. On the bright side, he does have three wins at Talladega — including two in the fall race under the elimination playoff format.
It looked like Logano’s teammate and fellow playoff driver Ryan Blaney was going to have a nice day as he scored stage points in both stages and was shaping up for a top-10 finish. However, the No. 12 Team Penske Ford lost its brakes and went to the garage before finishing 35th. Blaney is now last among the playoff driver standings, 22 points outside of a transfer spot and in nearly must-win territory at Talladega or Kansas.
Logano, Blaney and the rest of the Mustangs will look to rebound when the series heads to always unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday afternoon as the Round of 12 continues.
MENCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st -- Kyle Larson (P)
2nd -- Martin Truex Jr. (P)
3rd -- Alex Bowman (P)
4th -- Kevin Harvick (P)
5th -- Denny Hamlin (P)
6th -- Kyle Busch (P)
7th -- Matt DiBenedetto
8th -- Jimmie Johnson
9th -- Kurt Busch
10th -- Clint Bowyer (P)
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
11th - Brad Keselowski (P)
12th - Paul Menard
14th - Daniel Suarez
16th - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17th - Aric Almirola
22nd - Ryan Newman
24th - Michael McDowell
25th - Matt Tifft
27th - David Ragan
28th - Corey LaJoie
34th - Joey Logano (P)
35th - Ryan Blaney (P)
UPDATED PLAYOFF STANDINGS
1 - Martin Truex Jr. (3095)
2 - Denny Hamlin (3080)
3 - Kyle Busch (3080)
4 - Kevin Harvick (3074)
5 - Kyle Larson (3063) *
6 - Brad Keselowski (3052)
7 - Alex Bowman (3049)
8 - William Byron (3032)
9 - Joey Logano (3032)
10 - Clint Bowyer (3028)
11 - Chase Elliott (3025)
12 - Ryan Blaney (3010)
* has clinched into Round of 8 with win
POST RACE QUOTES
(P) Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Busch Beer All Harvick Ford Mustang
“For us, we had a tight condition and just right off the bat we struggled with getting the front of our car to turn and we really just lacked overall grip for us. It was much different in the race today than it was in practice.”
DO YOU THINK THIS WAS A GOOD RACE FOR YOU GUYS? “I would say that luckily this is a good race track for us and we were able to grind out a good solid finish and get some stage points on a day when a lot of people had trouble.”
(P) Clint Bowyer, No. 14 ITsavvy Ford Mustang -
“We started 17th and finished 10th, I don't know. It was hard to pass. Extremely hard to pass. Almost impossible. You had to have a really, really good car. It was just kind of a struggle out there all day long for us. Our ITsavvy Ford was about where we came out about where we ran. I am looking forward to Talladega though because you can certainly pass there.”
(P) Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Wurth Ford Mustang
“We had an okay day. We held serve. We came into the weekend 19 points up and we leave 20 points up with two big races in front of us. If we can have a great day at Talladega it would be huge. We are due for another great run there.”
TWO OF YOUR TEAMMATES HAD ISSUES. WERE YOU NERVOUS? “Oh yeah. There was something going on. I don't know what it was, that is for the smart guys that build and engineer the cars but it is certainly not good when you see your teammates breaking down.”
HOW HARD WAS IT TO PASS TODAY? “It was as hard as it typically is at Dover. We didn’t have the speed most of the weekend that we wanted to have.”
(P) Joey Logano, No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang
YOU GOT OFF TO A ROUGH START, WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE CAR? “Something back there wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do, so we had to fix that and we were 20-something laps down from there. You can’t make up 20 laps, that is for sure. Maybe you can get one or two back if things go right. It was a bummer. Things happen. I guess the good news is that I think we are the last one in right now. We definitely used our mulligan. We used the playoff points we accumulated, we just have to be perfect now. We have two really good race tracks coming up though. Talladega is arguably one of our best race tracks and I would say Kansas is as well. We just have to be perfect from here.”
SOUNDS LIKE HAMLIN IS UPSET WITH THE WAY YOU WERE RACING HIM NEAR THE END OF THE SECOND STAGE: “Well, the situation was that I had about four or five cars that it was possible for me to catch, which is five points. You tell me if it is worth it. I would say it is worth it and I have to go. I have to try to get those spots if I can get them. If some of those cars that were that slow out there and were going to be 20-something laps down, the pace we were running we were going to be within a lap or two of them. I had to race hard. I had to keep going.”