If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s apparently the mindset of Kevin Harvick’s team at Stewart-Haas Racing. After winning NASCAR’s first real race since March, crew chief Rodney Childers said that they will be racing the same #4 Busch Light Ford for Wednesday night’s race at Darlington.
After teasing the possibility of bringing back the same car right after their win, Childers told NBC Sports the morning after, “Bringing the same car back. Not even taking springs and shocks off the car. Just taking it like we ended but will fix a few things.”
On Sunday, Harvick surged through in the second half of the race to earn his 50th career NASCAR Cup Series victory and his first win of the season. While he didn’t go out in front at the start, the points leader took the lead around halfway and then the final stretch to lead over half the race and dominate at the perfect time.
Since Sunday’s and Wednesday’s race will be at the same track, there is the possibility that teams could bring the same car but it’s not that simple. The engine just did 400 miles, parts wear, the sheet metal on the car may have been damaged after beating and banging other cars (or the wall) after a few hours. For those reasons, most teams will likely bring newly prepared cars while they spend time repairing the one that just raced.
It seems like a no-brainer that if you won, you bring the same car since it’s theoretically got the best chance to win, but Harvick’s team will be working hard over the next 48 hours to make the car race ready again for 500 kilometers. Childers told reporters the car only had some damage on the rear bumper (due to bump drafting) and the right rear, which helps in deciding whether or not to race the same car a few days later.
Because of this, despite starting 20th, Harvick should have the advantage entering Wednesday. He’ll also have the advantage of using the same car for two races and saving a brand new car the team can use for a future race. Yes, racing at night will be different than racing during the day but Harvick’s team will combine what they learned from Sunday along with last year’s night race to come up with something for Wednesday. If they can get through potential early issues sitting in the middle of the pack, the #4 should be one of the favorites.