In last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, everything changed for the Championship 4 when a caution came out with 20 laps to go.
Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Newman would come to pit road a short time later under that yellow, and their pit strategies proved strikingly diverse: Hamlin was told to stay out and assume the title lead, Newman took a two-tire stop to beat everyone out of the pits, and Harvick and Logano each took four tires.
But a jack failure during Logano’s stop effectively finished his hopes, leaving Hamlin, Newman, and Harvick to duke it out. Harvick fell out of the Top 10 thanks to his taking four tires, but crew chief Rodney Childers’ call proved to be a stroke of genius.
Two more cautions within the final 15 laps gave Harvick ample opportunity to maximize his fresher tires on restarts, charge to the front past Hamlin and Newman, and ultimately win the race – and the title.
In the clip above, NASCAR AMERICA’s Rick Allen and Kyle Petty share their thoughts on how late pit strategy proved critical with everything on the line.