Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Driver Finishes 21st in Bank of America 500

Date:  Oct. 11, 2014

Event:  Bank of America 500 (Round 31 of 36)

Series:  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Location:  Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

Start/Finish:  4th/21st (Running, completed 333 of 334 laps)

Point Standing:  25th with 689 points

Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet)

A promising start for Tony Stewart Saturday night in the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway ended with a 21st-place finish.

Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), started fourth in the 334-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval and nabbed third place from Denny Hamlin after only one lap.

Stewart held steady among the top-five for the race’s first 50 laps before slowly drifting back with a racecar that was tight in the center of the track’s corners and too loose back to the gas.

By lap 100, Stewart was outside the top-10 in 11th. By the race’s halfway point, he was 21st. “It’s just plowing,” said Stewart over the radio on lap 179.

Despite numerous chassis adjustments by crew chief Chad Johnston, the car just didn’t respond. Stewart went a lap down to the leaders on lap 200 and was never able to get it back.

“Tight in the center, nervous back to the gas” was a common refrain from Stewart, and it prevented him from making any headway before the checkered flag dropped.

But there was a bright spot for Stewart on Saturday night as his SHR teammate, Kevin Harvick, won the Bank of America 500. It was the 23rd point-paying Sprint Cup win for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s fourth this season.

Harvick started seventh and led six times for a race-high 162 laps to bring his laps-led total at Charlotte to 296. It was Harvick’s 26th career Sprint Cup victory, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Fred Lorenzen for 25th on the all-time Sprint Cup win list. It was also Harvick’s third win of 2014 and his third victory in 28 career Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte.

Harvick is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. With his win at Charlotte, he automatically advances to the Eliminator Round, which will be determined after next Sunday’s race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. There, the Chase field will be whittled from 12 drivers to eight. No matter where Harvick finishes at Talladega, his victory at Charlotte guarantees him a spot in the three-race Eliminator Round that will ultimately determine which four drivers vie for the championship in the season finale Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 11th after leading two laps.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 26th after being spun by Joey Logano while battling for 11th place on lap 247.

Jeff Gordon finished .571 of a second behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Jamie McMurray, Logano and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were eight caution periods for 39 laps, with four drivers failing to finish.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the sixth race of the Chase – is the Geico 500 on Oct. 19 at Talladega Superspeedway. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.