Two NASCAR Cup Series championship hopefuls are in a precarious position after Kansas Speedway. Tyler Reddick and Kevin Harvick are both in must-win situations after finishing 35th and 36th, respectively.
Harvick was the first to exit the race. He raced on the outside on Lap 33, just behind Bubba Wallace and Ross Chastain. The two drivers moved up the track and took the air off of the front of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. Harvick lost control and hit the outside wall hard.
The team attempted to make some repairs, but they recognized that it would not be possible in the allotted 10 minutes. They took the car back to the hauler while Harvick headed to the infield care center for evaluation.
“When those two cars came up in front of me I just got super tight,” Harvick said after exiting the infield care center. “When I lifted it grabbed and got loose. I just wasn’t expecting them to come up and my car getting that tight.”
Reddick Had a Tire Issue Later in the Race
Harvick was the first to exit the race, but Reddick followed shortly after. He hit the wall hard from the lead, which made him head to his pit stall. He had led 38 laps during Stage 1, and it appeared that he would lock up both the stage win and a playoff point. Instead, he joined Harvick at the bottom of the scoring pylon.
“The right-rear tire just blew like we’ve had a few times. At Fontana, I was able to save it. But here, it snapped at the worst possible point and we just killed the wall,” Reddick told NBC Sports. “It broke the control arm on the right front, so our day was over. We leave here with not a lot of points, so we’ll have to fight hard at Bristol.”
Reddick entered the Kansas Weekend fifth in the playoff standings and 23 points to the good after a third-place finish at Darlington Raceway. Now he no longer has an advantage considering that the majority of the drivers behind him in the standings all will leave Kansas with more points.
According to NASCAR, Reddick is just above the cutline, but he has no true advantage. He sits in a tie with Austin Cindric in the final transfer spot, and they are only two points above Kyle Busch.
Harvick’s Points Deficit Only Increased After Kansas Speedway
Harvick had a strong car at Darlington Raceway, but his day came to an early end after an unexpected fire. He dropped below the cutline after the opening race, and he headed to Kansas Speedway 13 points out of the Round of 12.
The points deficit only increased after Harvick hit the wall and exited the race. He finished last and lost out on even more points. He now sits more than 30 points below the cutline as he heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Round of 16 cutoff race.
Harvick sits in a difficult position after back-to-back DNFs, but he will have an opportunity to contend at a track where he has extensive success. He has won three times at Bristol Motor Speedway during his Cup Series career, including the playoff race during the 2020 season.