Kevin Harvick wins ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond
April 26, 2014, Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com
Delayed race ends early Saturday morning
Harvick passed polesitter Brian Scott for the top spot on Lap 48 of 250 and led all but one lap thereafter in cruising to a victory over JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who fell one position short in his bid to win three straight races.
In an event that was delayed more than three hours by rain, Harvick led 202 laps in posting his series-best seventh win at Richmond, his first of the season and the 41st of his career.
The victory was the fourth in eight NNS races for JR Motorsports and the first 1-2 finish for the organization. Harvick credited his teammate for pushing him.
"Honestly, Chase is a good kid, and he knows how to drive a race car," Harvick said. "He pushes us to be better by trying different things (from what we've been doing) through the years. The groove getting into Turn 1 -- I had to change my groove tonight and change my car because it was different.
"He's as good as they get and a lot of fun to be around."
Elliott, however, chided himself for not giving Harvick more of a battle after a restart on Lap 204.
"We were just a little tight right in the middle of the corner," Elliott said. "I think he just outdrove me a little bit. Honestly, I felt like some of it was me. I just let him get a little too far out in front of me there on the first few laps.
"I've just got to get up on the wheel a little harder the next time we're in that situation."
During a green-flag run that lasted 104 laps after a competition caution called on Lap 41, Harvick built a lead of more than eight seconds, an advantage that was reduced to slightly more than 4 seconds after a long cycle of green-flag pit stops.
A caution on Lap 151 for debris in Turn 4, however, reset the field and gave all lead-lap cars (15 at the time) the chance to come to pit road for tires and fuel. First out of the pit after the stops, Harvick led the field to green on Lap 162 with Elliott second and Scott third.
Harvick pulled away after the restart, with Elliott in close pursuit, and those two drivers ran less than a half-second apart until contact from Ryan Reed's Ford sent Dylan Kwasniewski's Chevrolet into the Turn 4 wall to bring out the fourth caution of the night.
Harvick and Elliott were 1-2 off pit road for a restart on Lap 197, and though another quick caution on the restart lap -- when Smith tangled with Elliott Sadler in Turn 2 -- slowed the field for the fifth time, Harvick was just as dominant after a restart on Lap 204.
Gradually, Harvick pulled away from his teammate during the final 47-lap green-flag run and arrived at the finish line 2.069 seconds ahead of Elliott.