Harvick Edges Johnson To Win At Auto Club
Kevin Harvick passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead – and the victory – as the two drivers came out of the final turn on the final lap of the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday.
Harvick’s margin of victory was .15 seconds. He led just the one lap.
“I just didn’t hold him off,” Johnson, who had won four of the previous seven races at Auto Club, said. “I knew he was coming. If I could have got by the 18 (Kyle Busch) sooner, I might have been able to hold him off.”
But, “I was way loose. Even when I was tight I was way loose.”
It was Harvick’s first victory at the track in his native Southern California. It was also the first victory for his team owner, Richard Childress, at Auto Club.
Busch, who led 151 of the 200 laps Sunday, had the lead on a restart with nine laps to go. On the first couple of restart laps, he was able to ease to what appeared to be a decent lead.
But with four laps to go, Johnson shot past. Right behind him was Harvick.
The car which was clearly the fastest for most of the day, had slowed because, Busch said, of a sub-par set of tires.
“I gave the race away,” Busch, who finished third, said. “We didn’t have what it took at the end.”
Harvick moved to – and then into – Johnson’s back bumper on the back stretch on the final lap. On the final turn, Harvick made his winning move.
“You know those guys (Busch and Johnson) started racing and they got side-by-side and we were able to pull up in there,” Harvick said. “The more cycles that got on our tires, the better off we were. But I was really nervous about that last call staying out but it all worked out in our favor and we were able to make up ground.”
Matt Kenseth finished fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.
“The last two weeks,” Kenseth said, “Jimmy (Fennig, his crew chief) and these guys have made some great adjustments and had our Crown Royal Ford the best it has been all day at the end of the race which is important. It is a good day for us. You are always greedy and want more. I was the first guy on tires and I didn’t do probably as good a job as I needed to on the restart. It just took awhile to get there.”
Rounding out the top 10 were Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, Kasey Kahne and polesitter Juan Pablo Montoya.
Edwards moved to the points lead with his finish. He will head to Martinsville Speedway next weekend with a 9-point lead over Newman. Kurt Busch, who started the day as points leader but finished 17th, is third in points, 10 behind Edwards.
Kyle Busch moved to fourth in points and Johnson to fifth.One Comment