BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kevin Harvick will have a long road to traverse if he hopes to take down the victory in Sunday afternoon’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Harvick was hit hard with penalties after his No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang failed pre-race inspection three times. His engineer Billy Kuebler was ejected, he’ll have to start from the rear and he must serve a pass-through penalty once the green flag waves.
The 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion’s car finally passed inspection on its fourth try.
The pass down pit road under green flag conditions will likely cost Harvick at least two laps to the leaders right from the get go, meaning his path to his third Bristol win will be exponentially tougher.
Harvick originally qualified 13th for Sunday’s race and was fastest in 10-lap average speed in second practice. He has two wins and 19 top-10 finishes across 36 Cup Series starts at the concrete half-mile.
Looking ahead to next weekend at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Harvick will also lose 30 minutes of practice time for that event due to their three inspection failures at Bristol.
Past NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece will also start at the rear of Sunday’s field, after having to move to a backup car due to a blown tire and subsequent crash in final practice.
Preece was supposed to start 30th and ranks 25th in points entering Sunday’s battle at Bristol.
The 28-year-old is a former Bristol winner in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, winning for Joe Gibbs Racing last spring and collecting the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus as well.