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Late Charge Gives Harvick Martinsville Victory

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, April 4 2011

Kevin Harvick does a reverse victory lap after winning Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Martinsville. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Tami Kelly Pope)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Kevin Harvick passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. with five laps to go and went on to win the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.

The victory was the second straight for Harvick, as he won a week ago at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. In that race, he took the lead with just one lap to go.

“Awesome day,” Harvick said. “I didn’t think we had the car to do that and just came back up through there.  We put those two tires on and I got to the front and all the sudden everything was woken up.  So I had a lot of fun racing with Dale Jr, and I hate to be the guy that is the bad guy here but we are in it to win it.”

Earnhardt, attempting to end a 98-race winless streak, finished second. He gave up the lead when he got a bit loose to allow Harvick to get his nose under his left-rear quarterpanel.

“The 29 (Harvick) was coming,” Earnhardt said. “There was not much I could do. I don’t know what I could do different.”

Earnhardt took a shot or two at taking the lead back, even tapping Harvick’s rear bumper, but Harvick countered each time.

Kyle Busch, looking to scratch Martinsville off his list of places where he has not won in Cup, finished third. He had led a race-best 151 laps.

Busch had the lead on the final restart of the day but with 21 laps to go, Earnhardt bumped him out of the way to get the lead. Harvick would soon follow Earnhardt past

Kasey Kahne's car is carted away after being wiped out in a wreck in which the throttle of Martin Truex Jr.'s car hung open. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)


“We just didn’t have a short-run car today,” Busch said, and the final runs was only 29 laps long.

Busch did, however, move to the points lead with his finish. He will head to Texas Motor Speedway for the next race five points ahead of Carl Edwards, who was the points leader with the day began.

Edwards finished 18th and said, “Today wasn’t physically tough, we just weren’t very fast.  We struggled all day, but we’ll get ‘em.  I had power steering, but at low RPM it wouldn’t work.  We had something wrong with the gearing of the belt or something.”

Finishing fourth was Juan Pablo Montoya.

Fifth was Jeff Gordon.

Filling out the top 10 were Matt Kenseth, polesitter Jamie McMurray, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin.

“I thought we ran pretty good,” Kenseth said. ” It was probably one of our best runs at Martinsville.  It was just circumstances.  I guess it was my mistake early and it was just

Kevin Harvick's Richard Childress Racing crew celebrates for a second straight week. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Tami Kelly Pope)

circumstances as to why we didn’t run any better.  Really, that’s about the best we’ve performed.  There were times when we had a top-five car and times we didn’t, so, overall, it was a good run.”

Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson was 11th and had his chances for a victory ruined by a late speeding penalty on pit road.

Denny Hamlin, attempting to win his fourth straight race at Martinsville, finished 12th.

The race was caution filled because of wrecks.

One of the wrecks was especially scary. It occurred when the throttle of Martin Truex Jr.’s car hung open. He headed into a turn at full speed and smashed into Kasey Kahne.

Both cars were destroyed. The race was red-flagged for 25 minutes while crews cleaned up the track and fixed the soft wall.

Neither driver was hurt.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, April 4 2011
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