NASCAR Sprint Cup: Harvick late move wins Richmond
By The Sports Xchange
Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (29) celebrates winning the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday. (Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)
RICHMOND, Va. - With fresher tires and a career knack of come-from-behind wins, Kevin Harvick took advantage of a late caution and then grabbed the lead with two laps to go and held on for a green-white-checker finish and win in Saturday night's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
When racing resumed after the final caution, Harvick was in seventh place. But backed with some savvy driving and getting by six drivers in front of him, Harvick won his first race of 2013 and needed the six extra laps over the scheduled 400 laps to do so.
Clint Bowyer finished second, followed by Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Burton to round out the top-five.
Sixth through 10th were Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart got into a post-race beating and banging battle after Busch pushed Stewart out of the way on the final restart, taking Stewart out of his groove and a likely top-10 finish.
Stewart, who has struggled all season, saw those struggles continue, finishing 18th.
With 88 laps left in the race, Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers and Landon Cassell all received penalties for commitment line violations coming onto pit road during a caution period, proving particularly costly for Busch, who was challenging for the lead at the time. The penalties dropped all three drivers behind the 28th-place car at the time.
However, when Busch's crew chief, Dave Rogers, appealed the penalty, NASCAR agreed and rescinded the penalty, putting Busch back where he was when the caution came out, namely in sixth place.
That elation was short-lived, however, when with 73 laps left, several cars were involved in a wreck when Tony Stewart's car spun, collecting the cars of Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.
Just over 10 laps later, another significant wreck occured involving Kasey Kahne and Mark Martin, bringing out the ninth caution of the race. Martin Truex Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya both stayed out on the racetrack and did not pit, giving them the lead when racing resumed with 57 laps remaining.
But less than two laps later, the older Busch brother, 2004 Cup champ Kurt, spun Truex, bringing out the 10th caution flag and taking away Truex's best hopes for his first Sprint Cup career short track win.
Juan Pablo Montoya grabbed the lead late in the race and in pursuit of his first short track race on the Cup circuit, as well. However, Kevin Harvick had tires with 30 laps less on them than Montoya's, and he continued to close in on Montoya's lead.
Montoya's chances to win took a big hit with six laps remaining when Brian Vickers, replacing the injured Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Toyota, spun out and hit the wall, bringing out yet another caution.
Surprisingly, Montoya came in and pitted for four tires and fuel, giving up the lead and falling to sixth.
Coming into Saturday's 300-mile event, Kenseth appeared ready to extract revenge against NASCAR for the penalties it issued Wednesday after a part in the motor of Kenseth's Kansas race-winning car last Sunday was found illegal.
Not only did Kenseth earn the pole in Friday's qualifying, he dominated much of the first half of Saturday's 400-lap race around the 3/4-mile short track, leading 140 laps.