Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), delivered a dominant performance on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but was shuffled back on the final restart to finish sixth in the Folds of Honor 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Harvick earned his second top-10 of 2016 and his 11th top-10 in 26 career Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta.
Harvick started from the sixth position and raced his way up to fourth before bringing the No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road for a tire issue on lap 38. After a four-tire stop and a chassis adjustment, Harvick returned to the racetrack and was up to third by lap 43.
The 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion took the lead for the first time on lap 116 and went on to lead nine times for a race-high 131 laps. Harvick has led 100 laps or more in four of his last five starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Harvick gave up the lead to come to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 285 for four tires and fuel, but Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team short-pitted and came away with a nearly 12-second advantage following the stop. Harvick was able to cut the lead to less than six seconds before the final caution of the day on lap 323.
The Bakersfield, California, native brought the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet to pit road for four fresh tires during the caution and returned to the track in the second position on the outside of the front row. Harvick attempted to gain an advantage on the outside as the field returned to green, but instead he got shuffled back after several cars made it three-wide on the restart. The No. 4 Chevrolet crossed the finish line in the sixth position after a wreck on the frontstretch forced the race to end under caution.
“We had issues about the last three runs,” said Harvick, who won his first Sprint Cup race at Atlanta in 2001. “I had to start driving the car different. It just required a little bit different handling. And then we had a slow pit stop there. We got way behind and the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was way out front, and I had to drive the car really hard and got the right rear burned up. We just didn’t execute today, but everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Busch Chevrolet hung in there all day, and we’ll keep at it.”