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Harvick Wins Dover; Overcomes Two Ugly Finishes

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 4 2015
Kevin Harvick had to win Sunday and did. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Kevin Harvick had to win Sunday at Dover and did. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team avoided the mistakes they made in the first two races of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship and logged a dominating victory in the third.

chase 15 logoHarvick, who led all but 42 of 400 laps, won Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway and in doing so, moved on to the second round of the elimination-format playoff.

“Obviously we weren’t in a great position coming into today,” Harvick said, “but that’s what these guys (his team members) are made of and that’s what teamwork’s all about. This is what it’s all about; those big time moments.”

The victory was sorely needed as Harvick wrecked in the first race of the Chase and ran out of fuel while leading the second.

At Dover, Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet appeared to be jet powered. He not only led 358 laps, he led by gaudy margins.

“Just one of those weekends where the car was really good,” he said with voice cracking in Victory Lane.

The victory was Harvick’s third of the year but first since March. By overcoming his and his team’s problems in the first two races of the Chase, few would be surprised if more Chase victories are in the offing.

“Oh yeah,” he said when asked if the Dover win gives he and his team a boost. “Anytime you can go through moments like this and gain some momentum and prove to yourself that you can do things like this, there’s no way you can’t be stronger.

Joining Harvick, the defending Cup champion, in the 12-driver second round of playoffs will be Chase-race winners Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth, along with points-position drivers Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman.

Kyle Busch, who missed the first 11 races of the season with broken bones in his legs, finished second at Dover and Earnhardt Jr. third.

Truex Jr. finished 11th after starting at the rear of the field when NASCAR penalized his team before the race.

“Yeah we had to start last,” the Furniture Row Racing driver said. “It is what it is we moved on, we did what we had to do.  It wasn’t a great day for us.  It wasn’t a great weekend.  We have been just struggling trying to get the thing turning.  All-in-all we had good speed when we would get track position.  We would lose track position and being in long lines on the restarts then we couldn’t really go anywhere.  It was really difficult to pass today.  We had good speed out front, top five speed and then just never really could get back there once we got back in traffic.”

Kenseth, who started the race both on the pole and assured of a berth in the second round of the playoffs, led the first 24 laps of the 400-lap race.

Harvick then moved to the lead and was able to move out to leads in excess of 5 seconds.

His lead was trimmed by a debris caution which was called on Lap 112. On the ensuing restart, Harvick led the field to green jumped ahead of Kyle Busch and was once again able to put the field well back – his lead over Kyle Busch was over a second after just five laps.

Harvick had a 3-plus second lead on Busch when, on lap 192, the yellow came out for the fourth time when Jeb Burton wrecked. Harvick again was first out of the pits and on the Lap 206 restart, Harvick again blew out to a quick lead.

Debris brought out the yellow for the fifth time on Lap 232. Kyle Busch, taking just two tires, came out of the pits first and led the field to the green. Also taking two tires and exiting the pits ahead of Harvick were Kasey Kahne and Chaser Truex Jr.

On the Lap 237 restart, Busch kept the lead.

Harvick, with his four new tires, quickly moved to second place and by Lap 247 was on Busch’s rear bumper. A lap later, Harvick was back in the lead.

With 89 laps to go, a spin by A.J. Allmendinger brought out another yellow. Harvick again led the field out of the pits and was P1 on the restart and again strolled away from the field.

The caution flag waved again with 46 laps to go. Most of the leaders pitted and once again Harvick, who took just right-side tires, came out of the pits first. However, Kenseth, who did not pit restarted as the lead.

All of the other top-10 drivers – led by Logano and Kyle Busch – took four tires.

Harvick got a great restart and again moved to a big lead. But with 19 laps to go, Landon Cassill blew an engine and the yellow came out again.

On the restart, Harvick again was perfect and began pulling away from Kyle Busch.

The race went green the rest of the way and Harvick had the victory and the pass to round two of the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson saw his shot at winning a record-tying seventh championship end when, with just over 100 laps run, he headed into the pits and then to the garages with a rear axel problem. The Hendrick Motorsports driver started the race fifth in points but his mechanical problems ended up putting him 36 laps off the pace and moved him out of the top 12 in points.

Jamie McMurray was ousted from the Chase after Earnhardt Jr. had a great final restart, blew past him and earned the final berth. Earnhardt finished third in the race and ousted McMurray on the tie breaker.

“Yeah I knew we were a good enough team to get in there,” Earnhardt said. “We made some mistakes together last week in New Hampshire and put ourselves in a bad position, but I knew we were a good enough team to make it to the next round. I just feel like our team is a lot better than the guys we are competing with.  I just have that good confidence in my guys.  They really support me and pump me up and give me the confidence to go out there and work hard.  We have been building this team for a long time.  A real good day for us.  The car did everything we needed.  We kind of got lucky to start on the outside of that one restart and just kind of went around them somehow.  I just drove it in there and it stuck.  I hate some guys don’t get to make it and some guys do, but I’m glad we are able to move on to the next round.  It kind of resets and hopefully we don’t make any more mistakes and make it too hard on ourselves to try to get to that next round.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – AAA 400

Dover International Speedway

Dover, Delaware

Sunday, October 04, 2015

  1. (15) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 400, $263590.
  2. (13) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400, $206191.
  3. (12) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 400, $157175.
  4. (11) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 400, $156691.
  5. (18) Aric Almirola, Ford, 400, $155336.
  6. (17) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 400, $116640.
  7. (1) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 400, $145901.
  8. (27) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 400, $102215.
  9. (19) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400, $119673.
  10. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 400, $134273.
  11. (9) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 400, $116285.
  12. (10) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 400, $132571.
  13. (20) Greg Biffle, Ford, 400, $117818.
  14. (16) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 400, $119493.
  15. (3) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 400, $85035.
  16. (8) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400, $128351.
  17. (7) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 400, $97710.
  18. (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400, $97480.
  19. (6) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 399, $115080.
  20. (26) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 398, $109600.
  21. (24) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 398, $90480.
  22. (28) David Ragan, Toyota, 398, $109394.
  23. (21) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 398, $118866.
  24. (22) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 397, $107838.
  25. (14) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 397, $89405.
  26. (25) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 396, $108369.
  27. (30) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 395, $105138.
  28. (31) Cole Whitt, Ford, 394, $94488.
  29. (23) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 394, $107338.
  30. (32) David Gilliland, Ford, 394, $96577.
  31. (29) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 393, $121930.
  32. (35) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 393, $77155.
  33. (40) Reed Sorenson, Ford, 391, $77005.
  34. (37) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 391, $78330.
  35. (42) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 390, $76605.
  36. (41) Josh Wise, Ford, 389, $76437.
  37. (38) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 387, $76501.
  38. (36) Alex Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 386, $71402.
  39. (43) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 380, $67330.
  40. (33) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 365, $63330.
  41. (5) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 364, $107266.
  42. (34) Brett Moffitt #, Ford, Accident, 346, $55330.
  43. (39) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, Accident, 186, $51830.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  119.87 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 20 Mins, 13 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.639 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 43 laps.

Lead Changes:  14 among 3 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Kenseth 1-23; K. Harvick 24-41; M. Kenseth 42; K. Harvick 43-112; Kyle Busch 113; K. Harvick 114-195; Kyle Busch 196; K. Harvick 197-232; Kyle Busch 233-247; K. Harvick 248-312; Kyle Busch 313; K. Harvick 314-354; Kyle Busch 355; M. Kenseth 356-357; K. Harvick 358-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 7 times for 355 laps; M. Kenseth 3 times for 26 laps; Kyle Busch 5 times for 19 laps.

Top 16 in Points: M. Kenseth – 2,137; J. Logano – 2,123; D. Hamlin – 2,119; C. Edwards – 2,118; M. Truex Jr. – 2,104; Kurt Busch – 2,100; J. Gordon – 2,100; B. Keselowski – 2,100; Kyle Busch – 2,099; R. Newman – 2,099; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 2,098; J. Mcmurray – 2,098; J. Johnson – 2,086; K. Harvick – 2,082; P. Menard – 2,075; C. Bowyer – 2,048.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 4 2015
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