Takeaways from the Coca-Cola 600: Kevin Harvick was last and it was a first

Kevin Harvick (4) takes his car to the garage area after a crash during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, May 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Welcome to our weekly post-race column of fire takes. Let’s see what’s in store this week after Saturday night’s race at Kansas.

• Kevin Harvick had never finished last in NASCAR. Until Sunday night.

Harvick started last and that’s where he finished after an apparent tire issue in the first stage of Sunday’s race. He had worked himself from 39th all the way to the top five in the first 100 laps but hit the wall.

(via Fox)

“We came all the way through the pack and made it up into the top three there and sometimes those things happen,” Harvick said. “I can’t complain about anything that’s happened this year.  We have to take the good with the bad. The guys did a great job in basically guessing at where the car needed to be today with all the penalties, no practice and starting in the back. To come out and have the fastest car again was quite an honor to drive and they’re doing a great job. It was just bad luck.”

[Related: Kyle Busch dominates for win]

According to Brock Beard, who keeps track of cars and drivers who finish last, it was the first time Harvick had finished last in either the NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series or Truck Series.

What an incredible streak. Harvick stays in third in the Cup Series points standings, but thanks to Kyle Busch’s win he’s now 88 points behind Busch.

Austin Dillon is very lucky he won the Daytona 500.

Dillon was 34th on Sunday night after he hit the wall early in the race. Since he won the Daytona 500 he’s averaged a finish outside the top 20 and has scored just one other top 10. If he didn’t have a win, Dillon wouldn’t be in the playoff conversation.

He’s in the playoffs because of that win, even if he only led a lap in the Daytona 500. But his performance through the next 12 races isn’t a cause for optimism about Dillon’s chances of making it out of the first round of the playoffs.

Dillon is currently 19th in the points standings. His Richard Childress Racing teammate Ryan Newman isn’t faring any better. Newman was 35th on Sunday and he’s 21st in the standings. Chevrolet has been slow as a whole so far in 2018 and RCR is bearing a lot of it. The team’s not leaner and meaner like Dillon said before the season. It’s leaner and slower so far.

• Toyota drivers took the top three spots, but Chevy finally showed its first promise of the season at an intermediate track. Chevy drivers occupied four spots in the top 10, led by Jimmie Johnson in fith.

One of those drivers was Kyle Larson, who finished seventh after a big spin.

(via Fox)

“We had a shake to start the race, and I think that’s what upset me when I got into the wall, but we were able to work around it. This hasn’t been a great race for me, so glad to see us come away with a good finish tonight.”

Early-season struggles were to be expected with Chevy’s new Camaro. But the struggles have been quite pronounced so far. Will the second half of the regular season be different?

Johnson also spun. His happened earlier in the race than Larson’s.

“It feels good, but damn I want to win,” Johnson said. “I’m tired of running fifth, I’m tired of running whatever it is.  We got off on some adjustments today and it was amazing how sensitive the car was with some minor adjustments the car just lost half a second.  We had a hard time trying to grasp it and understand it and communicate about it. We put it back to the way it was and it took off and I drove right back up into the top three. Just a very small sweet spot with the car.  Luckily, we finished in that sweet spot and got a good finish out of it, including a spin and we had a jack break on a stop. We had to overcome a lot tonight.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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