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Pit road contact keeps Kevin Harvick from challenging for Pocono win

Kevin Harvick started from the back of the pack after failing inspection, but still managed to come in fourth place at Pocono.

Kevin Harvick proved the best car doesn’t always win on Sunday. Unquestionably the fastest car all weekend at Pocono Raceway, Harvick’s hopes for his seventh Cup win this season ended on pit road after contact with teammate Aric Almirola with about 40 laps left.

Harvick needed to return to pit road for repairs to his left rear and restarted 30th. He recovered to finish fourth but saw title contender Kyle Busch win and collect five playoff points that many figured Harvick would claim this weekend. Even Busch admitted after the win that Harvick had the best car.

“Just a fast Mobil 1 Ford,” Harvick told NBCSN. “I think as you look at the day, we kept having to go to the back and made a good race out of it. It’s hard to swallow having a car like that and not winning, but that’s usually how it goes.”

Harvick was fastest in qualifying Saturday but saw his pole go away when his car failed inspection afterward. Harvick’s car was one of 13 that failed inspection and lost their qualifying spot. He started 29th.

He was in the top 10 by Lap 9. Harvick finished second in Stage 1 and won Stage 2.

He entered pit road fifth as the field pitted under the Lap 122 caution. Harvick had Alex Bowman on his outside and Almirola on his inside as they headed down pit road when William Byron pulled out of his stall and that forced Almirola into Harvick.

“Harvick obviously was really, really fast and got through there a lot faster than I did,” Busch said. “Just him being able to turn better and be faster there the first stint. I feel like we worked on our car and got it better and got it closer. But still, when we restarted, he was on the outside and I was behind him and we cleared those guys and we were one‑two, he was driving away from me. So they were pretty fast.”
Even with an overtime finish, there wasn’t enough time for Harvick to challenge for the win. He had to settle for his 16th top-five finish in 21 races this year.