Pit call leads to chaos, Kevin Harvick losing a chance to win Southern 500

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Operating second with lower than 60 laps to go in Sunday’s Southern 500, Kevin Harvick arguably was in the most effective place.

However as a substitute of ending the evening in Victory Lane and advancing to the second spherical of the Cup playoffs, Harvick completed nineteenth and left Darlington Raceway pissed off.

He’s two factors beneath the cutline with two races left within the opening spherical. Kyle Larson, who benefitted from the pit name chaos, celebrated his third win of the season and Reddick completed second.

Heading into what was to be his last pit cease of the 367-lap race, Harvick trailed Reddick when crew chief Rodney Childers referred to as Harvick to pit highway on Lap 310.

Childers sought to pit a lap earlier than Reddick, utilizing the benefit of brisker tires to take the lead. By making the decision as late as potential, Childers hoped to maintain Reddick from reacting.

Reddick’s crew was monitoring Harvick’s radio channel. Instantly after Childers advised Harvick to pit, crew chief Billy Scott referred to as Reddick to pit highway.

“As quickly as somebody undercuts you by one lap (to pit highway), it’s a few seconds (gained by them),” Scott advised NBC Sports activities about how important it may be to pit a lap earlier than a competitor. “So, should you don’t have a large enough lead over the following automobile behind you, they’ll play off of you and pit earlier than you. As soon as that occurs, it’s achieved. you’re most likely going to return off behind them.”

Scott’s late name gave Reddick little time to return down the monitor and head for pit entrance. Darlington’s pit highway is troublesome to enter throughout a green-flag run as a result of the tires are worn and the floor is slick. That makes it straightforward to overlook the dedication line.

“I used to be attempting to make pit highway,” Reddick stated. “I missed it and I form of took again off. Sadly, I don’t assume Ryan (Newman) had wherever to go.”

Reddick’s actions triggered Newman to spin, bringing out the warning as Harvick headed to pit highway. Video confirmed that pit highway was closed earlier than Harvick entered. William Byron, trailing Harvick veered again on monitor.

“I noticed Harvick and William each pull down, so I used to be going to observe them,” stated Larson, who was fourth at that second. “It appeared like Reddick was simply going to should pit the following lap and bought caught late.”

Crew chief Rodney Childers stated he heard spotter Tim Fedewa inform Harvick to remain out, however Harvick entered pit highway.

“Warning got here out and the sunshine was on and I didn’t assume I may flip proper,” Harvick stated in response to a query from NBC Sports activities.

Had Harvick pushed down pit highway with out stopping in his stall, he wouldn’t have been penalized. He would have misplaced a number of positions since pit highway pace is 45 mph and the remainder of the sector was working sooner whilst they slowed for the warning.

As a substitute, Harvick’s crew serviced his automobile and he was penalized for pitting when pit highway was closed. That pressured Harvick to restart on the tail finish of the longest line. He was twenty sixth.

“(Spotter) Timmy (Fedewa) was yelling ‘May as properly go forward and pit’ and that confused me,” Childers stated. “We must always have drove by means of. However we had been going to be twenty fifth it doesn’t matter what. You’re form of screwed both approach. I don’t know what would have been the fitting factor to do.”

The consequence was that Harvick was out of rivalry for the win.

“If we’re being trustworthy with ourselves, I feel there have been 4 or 5 automobiles that had they gotten the lead, it was going to be laborious to go,” stated Cliff Daniels, Larson’s crew chief. “Harvick will get the lead, I do not assume anyone passes him. I feel the highest 4 or 5 had been very, very equal collectively simply in the best way the monitor place was form of staging itself.”

Simply as crucial within the sequence was that Larson moved into second behind Reddick. Byron had slowed on the apron and Larson glided by earlier than Byron returned to the monitor.

“That was a giant deal,” Daniels stated. “As a result of it set us as much as be second coming down pit highway, have a superb pit cease, come out with the lead.”

Larson’s crew had its quickest pit cease of the race, giving him the lead. Reddick exited second. That’s how they’d end.

After seeing an opportunity for his first win of the yr disappear, Harvick seems to Kansas and Bristol to keep away from being eradicated within the first spherical of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

“Simply go put the fuel pedal down and do the very same factor we’ve achieved for … 23 years,” Harvick stated of what he should do to proceed his quest for a championship in his last Cup season.

“Race for the win,” he stated.

It’s that straightforward after a chaotic lap in a four-hour race dramatically altered Harvick’s playoff probabilities.

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