It was almost a happy day for Kevin Harvick who led 34 laps but was passed for the win late in the going. Harvick qualified sixth, placed eighth in Stage 1 and fifth in Stage 2.
He recycled out as the leader after pit stops concluded with 29 to go. However, cautions late in the going caught him at the wrong time and he was passed by Elliott on Lap 103 and eventually wound up with a third-place finish. Regardless of the top-five finish, Harvick was already locked into the Round of 12.
“I thought it was a great day for us,” Harvick said to PRN Radio. “Everybody on our Jimmy Johns Ford did a great job. From last year to this year, to have the improvement and Watkins Glen to now. We knew we were off from the Hendrick cars on speed and they put me in a great position to win the race if the caution didn’t come out. I kept seeing that 9 (Elliott) getting closer and closer and didn’t really see the 88 (Bowman), but I saw he had fresher tires.”
“Just proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas. We worked hard to be competitive and it paid off.”
Harvick will be seeded in the fifth position, 18 points behind Kyle Busch. The third-place finish was Harvick’s 11th top five of the year.
His teammate Clint Bowyer had a similar day. The Emporia, Kansas native had a strong car starting fifth, finishing third in both stages and at one point he was third after a restart. Bowyer was also up front at one point in the race before wheel hopping and losing a couple of spots.
However, Bowyer and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team did what they needed to do and are advancing to the Round of 12.
“Going into the weekend, our backs were against the wall,” Bowyer said to PRN Radio. “We answered the call in qualifying. First of all, Mike (Bugarewicz, Crew Chief) answered the call unloading a fast car off the box. We qualified well, ran up front and passed cars. We did all the things we needed to do. Very proud of that race team, you never give up. It just shows, we were down and out after Vegas, could have easily been bummed out and gave up, but we didn’t and stuck to it.”
“Had a good race last weekend and top five here. That’s good momentum and going to some racetracks that are good. I am not going to start this thing off on the wrong foot again like we did in Vegas.”
Bowyer will be seeded 12th going into the next round of the Playoffs, 46 points behind Busch.