Harvick forced to pit early because of forgotten “bean bag” weights in car

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Kevin Harvick has won twice this Sprint Cup season, but his stout pace in almost all of this year’s races has also been repeatedly undone by bad luck and mistakes by his No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing team.

However, this latest episode may be the most bizarre.

Harvick started fourth in today’s Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International, but on Lap 2, he ceded multiple spots on the track.

The reason: A pair of “bean bag” ballast weights that are used during pre-race tech inspection had been left in the car and then got loose on the floorboard.

After a close call with Matt Kenseth, Harvick was able to get to the pits on Lap 3. An SHR crewman reached into the car’s right-side window and removed the weights, while the car was additionally topped up with fuel.

Harvick returned to the track in 42nd place, but has gained some ground back after staying out during a Lap 10 caution for a Turn 1 crash involving Cole Whitt.

When the green flag came back out at Lap 15, Harvick was listed in 22nd place.

Danica says goodbye: ‘Definitely not a great ending’ but ‘I’m for sure grateful’

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INDIANAPOLIS – Danica Patrick’s final racing news conference didn’t go quite as planned, but at least she didn’t lose her sense of humor about it.

“Is that like the Oscars when they close the show out?” Patrick joked when her opening address was drowned out by the midrace broadcast of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 in the media center. “Take my mic away. I’ll leave. I promise. I don’t really want to be here because I’m pretty sad, but all right. I guess I’ll stop there.”

That was about as lighthearted as it got, though, for the most accomplished female driver in racing history after the final start of her career. That naturally made for some reflection, too.

“I will say that I’m for sure very grateful for everybody,” she said. “It still was a lot of great moments this month. A lot of great moments this year.”

Patrick was the first woman to lead both the Indianapolis 500 (in her 2005 debut) and the Daytona 500 (in 2013 when she also was the first female to qualify on pole position in NACAR history).

But she couldn’t bookend that with similarly memorable finishes. After crashing out of her final two Cup races in the November 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the 2018 Daytona 500, Indy concluded the same way.

“Definitely not a great ending,” she said. “But I kind of said before I came here that it could be a complete disaster, as in not in the ballpark at all. And look silly, then people may remember that. And if I win, people will remember that.

“Probably anything in between might just be a little part of the big story. So I kind of feel like that’s how it is. I’m appreciative for all the fans, for GoDaddy, for Ed Carpenter Racing, for IndyCar. Today was a tough day. A little bit of it was OK. A lot of it was just a typical drive.”

Beforehand, Patrick seemed relaxed while smiling and laughing outside her car with a tight circle of close friends and family that included her parents and boyfriend Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

“For sure, I was definitely nervous,” she said about her first Indy 500 start in seven years. “I found myself most of the time on the grid being confused what part of prerace we were in. I was like, ‘I remember this,’ and ‘Where are the Taps?’ and ‘When is the anthem?’ but I had all my people around me, so I was in good spirits.”

And with that, she bid adieu.

“Thank you guys,” she said. “Thank you for everything. I’ll miss you. Most of the time. Maybe you’ll miss me just a little. Thanks, guys.”