The driver of the No. 4 expressed displeasure with his pit crew at Sonoma Raceway after a long pit stop took him out of contention for the win. Now Stewart-Haas Racing has made some pit crew changes for Kevin Harvick’s Cup Series playoff push.
SHR announced the news on June 23 ahead of the trip to Nashville Superspeedway. The team confirmed that Daniel Coffey will take over as the front-tire changer while Brandon Banks will serve as the new jackman. Both crew members move over from Chase Briscoe’s team, which secured the win at Phoenix Raceway. Rear-tire changer Daniel Smith, tire carrier Jeremy Howard, and fueler Evan Marchal will all continue to work on the No. 4 team.
Shayne Pipala, who was the front-tire changer for Harvick’s team, will move over to Briscoe’s team for the rest of the season. Jackman Stan Doolittle will move over to the No. 51 team at Rick Ware Racing as part of the technical alliance between the two organizations.
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Harvick’s Comments at Sonoma Raceway Turned Heads
Harvick hasn’t won a Cup Series race since the trip to Bristol Motor Speedway in September 2020, but he has been within reach numerous times over the past two seasons. The trip to Sonoma Raceway before the off-week was the most recent example considering that Harvick was running inside the top five during the final stage.
The situation drastically changed, however, after a pit stop on Lap 81. Harvick headed down pit road for fresh tires and fuel, but the routine stop took 22 seconds. This mistake took him out of contention for a win that would punch his ticket to the playoffs.
Harvick entered the road course race with an opportunity to secure a spot in the playoffs. Instead, he left California seven points below the cutline with teammate Aric Almirola sitting just ahead of him in the final transfer spot.
“We had our minimum of once-a-week catastrophic failure on pit road and got back as far forward as we could, as usual,” Harvick said after finishing fourth in the road course race. “It is what it is, I guess. We didn’t finish where we should have. We took away all of our chances. We should have been second at worst, but we keep screwing up every week.”
Harvick Has Another Prime Opportunity on June 26
The fourth-place finish at Sonoma Raceway kept Harvick in the mix for a spot in the playoffs, but it also represents a missed opportunity. The veteran driver still has a considerable amount of work to do in order to make the 16-driver field.
The next race on the schedule presents another prime opportunity for Harvick to win. He will head to Nashville Superspeedway on June 24-26 for the Ally 400 race weekend. This 1.33-mile track is one where Harvick has excelled. He has one start in the Camping World Truck Series and four starts in the Xfinity Series, all of which resulted in top-10 finishes. He also reached Victory Lane twice.
As a Cup Series driver, Harvick only has one start at Nashville Superspeedway. He took the special Grave Digger scheme to the Tennessee track for the inaugural race in 2021, and he posted a top-five finish. This performance kept him well above the playoff cutline, and it played a role in him reaching the Round of 16 by virtue of points.
Harvick will have another opportunity to repeat this feat during the 2022 trip to Nashville Superspeedway. Though his updated pit crew will play a major role in whether he can achieve success and reach the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season.