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Harvick Sneaks Past McMurray To Win Talladega

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 25 2010

Kevin Harvick crosses the finish line ahead of Jamie McMurray to win. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

They say that at Talladega Superspeedway, the yellow line at the bottom of the track can be a driver’s best friend.

Apparently, Jamie McMurray never heard them say that.

McMurray, leading the race on the final green-white-checkered restart Sunday at Talladega, gave up the bottom of the track to Kevin Harvick as they streaked toward the checkered flag. Harvick took advantage; he went down to the yellow line, passed McMurray for the lead just couple of feet in front of the finish and won the race.

Harvick’s margin of victory over McMurray, who had won the last two restrictor-plate races, appeared to be about 4 feet. In terms of time, the victory was by .012 seconds.

The winning move came on the third green-white-checkered restart of the Aaron’s 499.

\Harvick snapped a 115-race winless streak with the victory. The triple green-white-checkered was the first ever in Sprint Cup. The victory was the first for a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet since Jeff Burton won at Charlotte in the fall of 2008.

“Everything just played out perfect for us today,” Harvick said. “We broke that drought.”

McMurray said he thought Harvick would try to pass on the outside in the trioval, so he protected by moving up the track a bit.

“When he went left, it really loosened the car up,” McMurray said. “When there’s somebody directly behind you and they pull their car out really fast, it feels like you opened a parachute behind the car, and you lose three to five miles per hour immediately. Once he got underneath me, all I was doing was side-drafting and hoping I could stall him some.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, McMurray’s teammate at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, was third and Denny Hamlin was fourth in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Mark Martin, an avowed hater of restrictor-plate racing, was the top Hendrick Motorsports drive – he was fifth.

All of the top finishing cars were thought to be in trouble of running out of fuel as a result of the three green-white-checkered restarts.

“It’s crazy that it’s come down to this but that’s what the fans wanted,” Brian Pattie, crew chief for Montoya said after the race was sent to a second green-white-checkered finish which put his driver into a fuel predicament.

But all those who were believed to be running short of fuel – including Harvick and McMurray – finished the race.

Two of the top cars on the day – those of RCR’s Jeff Burton and Hendrick’s Jeff Gordon, who led 28 and four laps respectively and have not won a race since 2008 and 2009 respectively – were taken out of contention when they wrecked with seven laps to go.

That wreck produced the first green-white-checkered situation.

The second was produced when Joey Logano hit Ryan Newman from behind and sent him spinning high on the banking. Caught up were Brad Keselowski – last year’s race winner – Bobby Labonte, Marcos Ambrose, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, Sam Hornish Jr. and Brian Vickers.

“He just kept hitting me, hitting me, hitting me,” Newman said of the wreck. “But I would have done the same thing to me. Just Talladega racing. Well, Talladega. You can’t even say Talladega racing.”

The third green-white-checkered occurred when points-leader Jimmie Johnson swerved in front of Greg Biffle, who restarted second but had a poor restart, to take them both out.

McMurray, this year’s Daytona 500 winner, led the field for all three of the restarts.

After the final of those, Harvick stayed behind McMurray and stayed on his bumper until they came up the front stretch for the final time.

Harvick’s last victory came in the restrictor-plate Daytona 500 of 2007.

The victory moved Harvick into second place in points. He will head to Richmond International Raceway next weekend 26 behind Johnson.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 25 2010
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