Nascar Exclusive Race Report

Stewart-Haas Race Report:
Talladega Speedway | 5/7/2017

Greg Zipadelli|Vice President of Competition, Stewart-Haas Racing

Friday: Practice

“Friday at Talladega was challenging on a couple fronts. We had weather in the area and knew that practice would likely be cut short by a rain shower, but we still needed practice time. We kept an eye on the radar as practice approached and the rain held off just long enough for us to get about 15 minutes of practice before NASCAR canceled the rest of on-track activity for the day. We made the most of our time as Kurt (Busch), Kevin (Harvick) and Clint (Bowyer) were able to get on track and were on top of the speed chart. That was a good thing. We knew our restrictor-plate cars were good in Daytona and they’d likely be good at Talladega as well, but the practice time was just enough for us to make a couple laps to see how the cars were handling in the draft and to make any small adjustments we might have needed to fine tune. The only car that didn’t get on track during that time was the No. 10 (Danica Patrick) because her team had to serve a 15-minute practice penalty from the previous week. That made it difficult because she wasn’t able to make any laps, but overall we were confident she’d be fine for qualifying on Saturday.”

Saturday: Qualifying

“Qualifying was our only on-track activity on Saturday and it was a different schedule for us given that the Xfinity cars raced before we qualified. Restrictor-plate qualifying is also slightly different than the rest of our qualifying days. It’s single-car runs and the top-12 from the first round advance to the final round to determine the pole. Since practice time on Friday was cut short by rain, we weren’t able to make any mock runs and had to trust what we had would be good enough to qualify well. The No. 4 (Harvick) gave us a top-12 effort in the first round and advanced to the final round where he qualified sixth. Kurt and Clint qualified 15th and 17th, but weren’t able to advance. Danica qualified 31st, but again, she didn’t have a chance to get on track at all on Friday, so we weren’t completely sure what to expect.”

Sunday: Race

“We finished all over the board on race day. The No. 10 (Patrick) received some damage to the nose of her car early on as she was trying to race to the front, but the cars in front of her stacked up. She was able to continue through the first two stages without incident after she pitted and we made some minor repairs.

“The No. 4 (Harvick) was fast to start the race and stayed in the top-five through most of first stage, but reported a vibration after his first pit stop and the team decided to pit several times between the first and second stages to take a look and try to figure out the issue. The front splitter was worn pretty thin, so it may have been hitting the racetrack, causing the vibration, but nothing else was found to be abnormal. He also continued on and raced his way back up to the front where he was able to lead laps and put himself in position for the end of the race.

“The No. 41 (Busch) raced his way toward the front and worked with the No. 14 (Bowyer) really well in the opening stage. Those two really did a nice job of working together to race their way up through the field from their mid-pack starting positions.

“The biggest issue of the day came late in the final stage, where three of our four cars – the Nos. 10, 4 and 41 were part of the big 18-car wreck and sustained varying degrees of damage. The wreck ended Danica’s day as the No. 10 made significant contact with the inside wall and had to be towed back to the garage. Harvick’s received a fair amount of damage – the incident knocked a hole in the front bumper and the damage to the right-front of the car required multiple pit stops to make sure the fender was clear of the tire and to ensure the front of the car was structurally sound. Once those repairs were made, he suffered a cut right-front tire on the following restart and had to pit under green causing him to briefly lose a lap. He was able to finish the race, but the damage from the wreck took him out of contention for the win.

“Kurt’s No. 41 car had relatively minor damage and we were able to make the repairs to the front fender on pit road, allowing him to continue and he ended up being our highest finisher of the day in sixth place.”