|Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images North America)|
Leading five times for 88 laps, Harvick essentially ran out of fuel on Lap 310, but managed to coast to the checkers. In the post-race Media Center interview, he credited the new electronic fuel injection system with keeping him at speed.
“Really, you have kind of a little bit more of a cushion because the EFI kind of kept us running there at the end. Basically what it does is knocks the engine down to just a minimum RPM, it's like a rev limiter and that's basically caution car speed there and that's as fast as it'll go. But it will keep running. It got us back to the start finish line, and it ran out coming off of Turn 2 after the checkered.”
Harvick lead five times for a total of 88 laps, but said that he didn't think he could have caught winner Denny Hamlin.
“Our cars were pretty evenly matched. Really the whole second half of the race, he was a little bit better on the restarts and was able to kind of scoot by on the one restart there, I lost a couple spots, so that was our weak point of the day was the restarts. We were able to match him, make up a little bit of ground, and just -- I don't know that there would have been enough time.”
New crew chief Shane Wilson’s communications with Harvick and spotter Billy Odea seemed natural, not at all like one might expect weeks into the season. With a seventh place at Daytona and second at Phoenix, Harvick and company sit in third place, only eight points back of points leader Hamlin.
As he crossed the finish line, Harvick said on the radio “That’s what it takes to win championships. Good job! Owner Childress came on with, “Hell of a job.”
|Photo by Tyler Barrick/|
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"We had a really good car here this weekend," Menard. "The Tarkett/ Menards Chevrolet was fast in practice on Friday. Unfortunately, the warmer temperatures for qualifying hurt the balance and we ended up in the 20th position to start today's race. We tried to run a patient race but got caught up in a mess when the No. 22 car got loose. Otherwise, I think we would have had a top-10 finish."
While Jeff Burton’s No. 31 certainly seemed to have eaten its Wheaties, running near the front for much of the race after starting in eleventh. He lead seven laps, but around Lap 286 began reporting engine problems and at Lap 288 NASCAR warned Burton to pick up his speed. Unfortunately, he was unable to do so. On Lap 291 Burton got black flagged and headed to pit road and ultimately the garage, finishing in 33rd place. Burton started in seventh place,
|Photo by Todd Warshaw/|
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While their finishes didn't truly reflect the on-track performance for the RCR drivers this week, perhaps with the exception of Harvick, the three teams have a solid foundation for the season.