Kevin Harvick closes RCR tenure with Top-10 finish

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Following a 10th-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway tonight, Kevin Harvick was a little reflective as he looked back on his 13-year run with Richard Childress Racing that has now come to a close.

“I’m happy with everything that we have been able to accomplish as a group,” said Harvick, whose final stat line with RCR will read as follows: 23 wins, 100 Top-5s and 209 Top-10s in 466 Sprint Cup starts.

“We had a great year knowing what the circumstances were and we have won a lot of races – a lot of the marquee races. We have won Nationwide championships.

“As owners in the Truck Series and Nationwide cars, we were customers of the engine shop. So I mean, there is a lot that has happened with everything and everybody at RCR and [I’m] really proud about my past and everybody who has been involved in it – and really excited about my future.”

Harvick entered Homestead with an outside opportunity to win the Sprint Cup championship, but after being up front early, his No. 29 Chevrolet began to develop handling problems that caused him to fall out of the Top 20 before he had to pit under green at Lap 117.

He went a lap down as a result but was able to get back in sync with the leaders thanks to pit strategy. Unfortunately for him, he did not have a car capable of winning, which is what he needed to do (along with Johnson and Matt Kenseth having problems) to have any hope of taking the title.

“We just weren’t very good,” Harvick said of his race. “Just couldn’t turn like we needed to. We had one set of tires that I don’t know what was wrong with, but just like always, these guys on our Budweiser Chevy kept after it.

“Obviously, it’s not what we wanted…Sometimes, you take off with it and sometimes you don’t. We just kept working on it and salvaged a Top-10 out of it.”

Harvick finished third in the standings in his final season for RCR, which almost ended in disaster with the brief feud between Harvick and Richard Childress’ grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon, following a Camping World Truck Series race last month at Martinsville Speedway.

After commenting harshly on the Dillons, Harvick apologized a short time later. And after some conversations after that Martinsville weekend, everyone got back to working toward the goal of finishing 2013 strong. They realized that goal, taking the win at Phoenix in the penultimate race of the year before coming to Homestead.

“I think Martinsville brought a lot of things to a head and we were able to talk about a lot of things,” Harvick said. “Really, this was the way I would want to leave, with everybody shaking hands and happy that we have been together and been successful together. ”

Now, the end has arrived for Harvick and RCR. Next year, Harvick will be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing as part of a expanded four-car lineup that will also feature Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick.

But while Harvick looks forward to the new chapter in his career, he’s also looking forward to something else.

“I can’t wait for our first hunt together as friends,” Harvick said, presumably referring to Childress. “That will be good times.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.