2014 NASCAR standings: Promising day turns sour for Stewart-Haas Racing

Jerry Markland

Symbolic of its year, Stewart-Haas Racing failed to capitalize Sunday at Pocono.

At one point the Stewart-Haas Racing cars ran 1-2-3, seemingly poised for a stellar afternoon at Pocono Raceway.

Yet much like its year, the results failed to fully materialize Sunday, with Kurt Busch (third place) the only one of four SHR drivers to finish in the top 10. Teammates Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick, each of whom was capable of winning the Pocono 400, were undone by a speeding penalty (Stewart) and a flat tire (Harvick).

Stewart finished 13th while Harvick was a spot behind in 14th. Both left Pocono feeling like the day could have brought more.

"100 percent driver error," Stewart said. "I gave my guys grief last week with a sixth-place run, thought we should run in the top three, and then I threw it away this week. Had an awesome Chevy all day -- great race, just the driver screwed it up this week."

Stewart led 24 laps Sunday, only the second time he's been out front all season as the owner-driver continues to work his way back from a broken leg sustained in August of last year.

Harvick never led, though he did have one of the fastest cars -- much like he has had throughout 2014. But outside of wins at Phoenix and Darlington, this season has been defined by parts failures, mistakes on pit road -- by driver and crew -- and plenty of missed opportunities.

A week ago Harvick was leading at Dover when a valve stem broke, forcing him to pit road under the green flag. At Charlotte the week before, two slow pit stops cost Harvick a potential win. He finished runner-up to Jimmie Johnson. There were mechanical failures at Las Vegas, Bristol, Fontana and Texas.

The sour luck that seems to follow Harvick and his No. 4 team is confounding to SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli.

"Yeah, I don't know," Zipadelli said. "I try not to think about it too much because it gets frustrating and because I really don't think there's an answer to it."

Harvick did not have a comment, but a posting on his Twitter account said it all:

Screen_shot_2014-06-09_at_13.09.39_medium

Even Danica Patrick couldn't escape the misfortune that encompassed SHR Sunday. Running solidly in the top 20, Patrick experienced a blown tire and hit the wall. She finished 37th.

The lone bright spot was Busch. It was a much-needed result for the No. 41 team, which since winning March 30 at Martinsville Speedway had posted subsequent finishes of 39th, 31st, 23rd, 33rd, 29th, 40th and 18th.

"It was just solid execution," Busch said. "A nice turn of the page, so to speak ... this is what we need to start building our consistency on."

Sprint Cup point standings
Rank Driver Points Wins
1 Jeff Gordon 498 1
2 Matt Kenseth 482 0
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 476 2
4 Jimmie Johnson 475 2
5 Brad Keselowski 448 1
6 Kyle Busch 443 1
7 Carl Edwards 441 1
8 Denny Hamlin 420 1
9 Joey Logano 418 2
10 Kyle Larson 417 0
11 Ryan Newman 411 0
12 Kevin Harvick 403 2
13 Brian Vickers 392 0
14 Greg Biffle 385 0
16 Austin Dillon 385 0
16 Clint Bowyer 383 0
17 Paul Menard 380 0
18 Tony Stewart 368 0
19 Aric Almirola 366 0
20 AJ Allmendinger 360 0
21 Kasey Kahne 351 0
23 Marcos Ambrose 351 0
24 Jamie McMurray 351 0
24 Martin Truex Jr. 324 0
25 Casey Mears 322 0
26 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 290 0
27 Kurt Busch 283 1
28 Danica Patrick 246 0
29 Justin Allgaier 241 0
30 Michael Annett 212 0
31 Cole Whitt 195 0
32 David Gilliland 191 0
33 David Ragan 184 0
34 Reed Sorenson 175 0
35 Alex Bowman 169 0

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