Harvick Wins, Ponders 2012 For His Teams
By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kevin Harvick dominated Wednesday night’s O’Reilly 200 to collect his third straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory, but the California native said he didn’t know what 2012 holds for Kevin Harvick Inc.
“For us, it has a lot to do with winning,” said Harvick, who led 103 of the 200 laps on the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway track. “The way we started the year wasn’t acceptable. We were consistent, but we were giving races away. Now we’ve been able to capitalize on a lot of things. I’m not just talking about the [No.] 2 truck specifically. The other two trucks seem to shoot themselves in the foot a lot.
“As we got to about week six, I feel like the performance level on the trucks was raised tremendously. They’ve done a good job of working on a lot of different things, too, to make the things very drivable and very fast, and not over complicating it.
“This program was built on winning and it was built on winning championships and that was what was expected. As far as what the landscape of the whole thing will look like, I can’t tell you today because I really don’t know. We’ve been fortunate to have well-funded trucks over the past couple of years and winning definitely doesn’t hurt anything.”
The No. 2 truck driven Wednesday night by Harvick leads the owner point standings, but has had five different drivers in it in 16 races. Crew chief Bruce Cook said the truck was set up the same, no matter who drove it. The only thing changed in the truck was the driver’s seat.
Harvick’s other two drivers, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Nelson Piquet Jr. are ninth and 12th in
the standings, respectively. Piquet finished eighth at Bristol, while Hornaday had to settle for 24th in the 36-truck field.
With his 12th career Truck series victory, Harvick has now won at Bristol in all three of NASCAR’s national series – Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck. He also has accomplished the feat at Michigan, Martinsville, Phoenix and Atlanta. Harvick, who attributed his Bristol victory to a quick pit stop during the fifth caution period, said he wanted to compete in the truck race for several reasons and one was so he could get his rhythm at the track since he wasn’t competing in Friday night’s Nationwide race.
“I wanted to see what the tires were all about; what kind of groove the race track was going to take on,” said Harvick, who averaged 69.953 mph in the race that was slowed by nine caution flags for 62 laps. “Really, just make more laps. The new style of race track they have here is not like the old track where I felt like I had a good rhythm. I know we’ve run well in the Cup car. We haven’t won on this surface. We have won in Nationwide and Truck on this surface, but it’s just one of those things where a little rhythm can’t hurt as fast as this place is.”
Harvick edged Johnny Sauter by 0.434 second for the victory, but it was a confrontation between Kyle Busch and Elliott Sadler just past the halfway mark that triggered the most excitement. Busch felt Sadler hit him intentionally. He waited and then drove up the track and into Sadler in the second turn on lap 102, causing the sixth caution period. Immediately after the race, Busch said he felt Sadler hit him intentionally, then added, “Well, you know where his paycheck comes from.” Sadler said he wished Busch would look at a replay of the incident.
It’s no secret that Busch and Harvick don’t like each other and have had several run-ins. Ironically, Sadler wasn’t driving for Harvick Wednesday night. When asked about the incident in the media center, Harvick replied, “Everything that I’ve heard from everybody on my team, which is one side of the story, was Kyle just came up and Elliott didn’t let out of the gas. A lot of times people tend to let off the gas and let him in and he can bowl his way in. But at some point, you just keep your foot in it. If he had any sense or paid attention to anything, he would realize he wasn’t even driving my truck tonight. He may get a check for the Nationwide car, but he wasn’t even on our team tonight. That just shows Kyle’s ignorance.”
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