Stewart-Haas Racing cars were the class of the field the first two races of the season, with a win in the Daytona 500 by Kurt Busch and most laps led in both the 500 and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway by Kevin Harvick. Unfortunately, a 10th-place finish by Clint Bowyer was the highlight of a lousy day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from the four-car organization.
But even Bowyer admitted that was a struggle.
“To be truthful, we weren’t the best all weekend, but we just kept digging,” he said after the race. “(Mike) Bugga didn’t give up on the box and kept adjusting on it and got me pretty good, the best we’d been right there at the end. It’s a top-10 and gives us some momentum. It’s our third race together and we got a top-10, so we’ve got to keep digging.”
Kurt Busch dealt with electrical issues that forced him to pit and change batteries with 66 laps to go. He finished in 30th place, four laps down.
“Obviously it wasn’t the day we were hoping to have with our Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion,” Busch said. “We didn’t have the long-run speed or the balance, and we had an electrical issue that forced us to change batteries on pit road. We kept battling, we didn’t give up. I hoped to have a better run here in front of the hometown fans.”
The other two SHR cars didn’t make it to the finish.
Exiting the tri-oval on lap 68, Kevin Harvick suffered a right-front tire blowout and slammed the wall. He said the tire started vibrating four or five laps prior and was he trying to nurse it to the end of the stage.
He was critical of the response time by American Medical Response.
“The worst part was the medical response. It took them forever to get to the car,” Harvick said. “I thought we made that better, but obviously we haven’t.”
He finished 38th and lost the points lead.
With 16 to go, Danica Patrick’s engine expired on the frontstretch, relegating her to a 36th-place finish.
“We just got the car to a place where I think we could have got a little more racy with it,” Patrick said, “especially if we would have caught some breaks, but then it just flattened out. I just rode around the top in case I blew up, but having a teammate behind me was not ideal for the timing of it, but unfortunately it happened. We’ll just move on.”