Harvick Wins Richmond; Chase Field Is Set
Kevin Harvick took the lead from Jeff Gordon during yellow-flag pit stops with 16 laps to go, held off Carl Edwards over the final five laps and went on to win the Wonderful Pistachio’s 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night.
The victory was the fourth of the season for Harvick, tying him with Kyle Busch for the best in the series.
“On the green flag runs,” Harvick said, “we could take off for the first 40 or 50 laps really good. They got it a little bit too tight there at the end and Carl was actually a little bit better than we were. I finally just started hugging the bottom and parking it and figured he was either going to have to knock me out of the way or go around the outside. It was a good race. A lot of fun.”
But more importantly for those into big pictures, the field for the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoff was also set.
The 12 drivers in the Chase – in order of seeding (and number of points) – are Kyle Busch (2012), Harvick (2012), Gordon (2009), Matt Kenseth (2006), Edwards (2003), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kurt Busch (2003), Ryan Newman (2003), Tony Stewart (2000), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2000), Brad Keselowski (2000) and Denny Hamlin (2000).
Earnhardt and Hamlin made the Chase despite being involved in an early race wreck which pushed in the nose of Earnhardt’s car and broke suspension parts in Hamlin’s car. They finished the race 16th and ninth respectively.
“We just kept working and trying to fix the car,” Earnhardt said. “It was tore up pretty bad in the front. Had a lot of camber and was just really loose in and wouldn’t turn in the middle. We worked on it and worked on it trying to hit on something that would be kind of competitive. We were real good, we could race the leaders on 10-lap tires but after that we just would good backwards and just try to fight for everything we could to get every bit of track positions that we could. But, I thought we were going to have a pretty good car tonight.
“But the No. 33 (Clint Bowyer) spun out over there and everybody kind of knew about except for one or two cars and drove a few of us into the wreck. I locked the brakes up when the No. 13 (Casey Mears) sent me in the wreck, I locked the brakes up and into the door of the No. 11 car (Denny Hamlin). I saw the No. 33 sitting up there and I thought I’d get off the brakes and let my front tires roll down to the bottom and go around him. He gets off the brakes and rolls down the track in front of me. So I hit him. That was it. We just worked hard the rest of the night.”
Edwards, who got to Harvick’s rear bumper over the final laps, finished second in the race.
“Kevin wouldn’t give me enough room to run into him,” Edwards said. “He stayed on the bottom because he said I knew I was going to hit him. He did a good job staying on the bottom and I couldn’t get a run to get up to him at all. That was a great race.”
Rounding out the top 10 were Kyle Busch, Stewart, Newman, Hamlin and Mark Martin.No Comment