News & Media


Harvick exerts his dominance at Texas

November 04, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com



Harvick exerts his dominance at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Driver leads 127 laps, ties Nationwide track record with fifth win

Kevin Harvick had a lock on the front of the field in Saturday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, but there was plenty of action behind him.

The class of the field in the 200-lap, 300-mile Nationwide Series race, Harvick won handily, crossing the finish line 1.628 seconds ahead of 18-year-old Ryan Blaney, who made the most of a pit stop for tires on Lap 178.

O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge

Results
1.Kevin Harvick Chevrolet
2.Ryan Blaney Dodge
3.Kyle Busch Toyota
4.Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford
5.Denny Hamlin Toyota

Standings

Pos.+/-DriverBehind
2.-1Elliott Sadler--
3.--Austin Dillon*-21
4.--Sam Hornish Jr.-95
5.--Michael Annett-157

Pole-sitter Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who erased the six-point lead Elliott Sadler held when the race began. Stenhouse, the defending Nationwide champion, is tied with Sadler with two races left in the season and holds the tiebreaker, most wins.

The victory was Harvick's second of the season and 39th of his career, third most all-time. Harvick, who led 127 laps, notched his fifth Nationwide victory at Texas, tied with Busch for the track record.

* Video: Final Laps | Victory Lane | Post-Race Reactions

Harvick and Busch battled for the lead after the last restart on Lap 182. Busch crossed the stripe with the nose of his car ahead of Harvick's at the end of that lap, but Harvick's No. 33 Chevrolet cleared the No. 54 Toyota through Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 183 and began to pull away.

Harvick's real worry, however, wasn't Busch but the cars behind him on fresh tires.

"I didn't want to make a big mistake and give up a big chunk of time there because I knew somebody was going to be faster coming through the field," Harvick said. "But it all timed itself out pretty good, and everything worked out."

Stenhouse, fighting a loose-handling car, trailed Sadler for the majority of the race, but a restart on Lap 160 began a dramatic reversal of fortune for the two drivers fighting for the title.

Stenhouse took the green flag in 14th place and began a charge to the front. On Lap 175, he passed Logano for the fourth spot. The real turnaround occurred after Joe Nemechek brushed the Turn 4 wall on Lap 177 to cause the fifth and final caution of the race.

Stenhouse and Sadler remained on track while many in the field behind them, including Blaney, came to pit road for tires. Stenhouse was able to hold the fourth position after the Lap 182 restart, but Sadler, who restarted sixth, lost ground to the drivers with fresh rubber and faded to 11th.

"When the cautions came out, we were able to make some adjustments to it," said Stenhouse, whose crew used liberal changes to the track bar, air pressure and wedge (weight distribution) to try to tighten up the No. 6 Ford. "We just took advantage of that second-to-last restart there with 40 [laps] to go and got our track position.

"It was a great night for us, but definitely disappointing -- we wanted to win."

Denny Hamlin ran fifth, with Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr., Justin Allgaier, Kevin Swindell and Joey Logano completing the top 10. Swindell was making his first Nationwide start of the season.

Busch congratulated Blaney after the race and had high praise for the talented teenager. The runner-up finish was a career best for Blaney in 12 Nationwide starts this season.

"He's really showing what he can do," Busch said. "He's done a good job of doing it and being clean while doing it. He's got a lot respect for everybody out there, and he can finish top two, three, four, five week in, week out, and he does it without making a big deal out of it.

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Kevin Harvick earned his 39th career win in his 290th race.
• Kevin Harvick's 39 wins rank third all-time.
• Kevin Harvick earned his fifth Texas win in his 14th start, tying Kyle Busch for most all-time.
• Texas is the third different track where Kevin Harvick has reached five career wins.
• It is Kevin Harvick's second win of 2012 in his 13th race; the other was at Richmond.
• It is Kevin Harvick's 10th multi-win season; his last was 2010.
• It is Kevin Harvick's 13th win on a 1.5-mile track, third all-time.
• Kevin Harvick has finished first or second in his last three Nationwide starts.
• Kevin Harvick led six times for 127 laps, including the final 18.
• Richard Childress Racing got its 64th career win, fifth at Texas and eighth of 2012.
• Chevrolet got its eighth Texas win, first in the past 10 races, and 12th win of 2012, most of all makes.
• Ryan Blaney (second) got his career best finish in his 12th start, his first at Texas.
• Kyle Busch (third) has top-10 finishes in his past nine starts but is still winless in 2012 after winning at least one race in each of the prior eight seasons.
• Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (fourth) got his 18th top-five finish of 2012, most of all drivers. He is tied with Elliott Sadler in the standings but holds the tiebreaker, most wins.
• Denny Hamlin (fifth) earned his eighth top-five finish in 12 starts this season.
• Austin Dillon (sixth) leads all drivers with 25 top-10 finishes in 2012; he finished in the top-10 in both career Texas starts.
• Elliott Sadler (11th) lost 13 points to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. during the past two races and is now tied in points; he has two finishes outside the top-10 in 11 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012, both at Texas.

"I just congratulated him and told him he did a great job."