NNS: Kevin Harvick Scores At Kentucky

Marshall Gabell Carolinas Racing, Featured, MidSouth, NASCAR 0 Comments

SPARTA, KY– Race report by Race Chaser Online Correspondent Marshall Gabell — Photo Credit Todd Warshaw/Getty Images North America –

Sometimes it’s better to be auspicious rather than dominant.

That defined Kevin Harvick, and was revealed to the entire NASCAR Nationwide Series on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Harvick led 14 laps of the 200 in the John R. Elliott Campaign 300 en route to a remarkable victory in the Bluegrass State. The win marks his second Nationwide Series triumph this season and becomes his the 42nd of his career, leaving him just six wins from becoming second on the all-time wins list in NASCAR’s second premier series.

“It was a strange night for us,” an exited Harvick explained post-race. “It’s just been frustrating here (Kentucky) all weekend. It’s really hard to get ahold of. We tried a lot of new things tonight and (luckily) it worked out.”

The win was Harvick’s second at the challenging 1.5-mile circuit and his fourth top five; which is astonishing given the bumpiness and toughness this track poses for competitors.

“There is no comfortable here (Kentucky),” Harvick further explained. “There’s nothing wrong with the racetrack, the car just never handles good. It’s been a frustrating three days. There’s (just) a lot of things that go wrong here.”

After leading 138 laps and costing himself track position (due to a pit road speeding penalty), Brad Keselowski was unable to chase down race leader Harvick during the late stages and finished in the second position.

“We had a great night going then I got behind with the penalty,” Keselowski expressed post-race. “I just made a little mistake. But the (guys) gave me a great car. I just didn’t capitalize on it there at the end. I think Kevin at the end was a touch faster.”

Kyle Busch capped his mediocre performance in the third position, though, like typical ‘Rowdy’, he was disappointed with the podium result.

“We didn’t have the car to beat,” Busch commented post-race. “We shouldn’t be upset with a third, but there at the end we had the opportunity to win the race. We just didn’t have enough on the final restart unfortunately. (Just) not enough speed on the first five laps into a restart.”

2011 Brickyard 400 victor Paul Menard came home in the fourth position and rookie Ryan Blaney notched his second-career top five at Kentucky (he won this event last season). Following that duo was the Richard Childress Racing trio with Brendan Gaughan in sixth, Ty Dillon in seventh and Brian Scott in eight.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Kyle Larson and new Nationwide Series point’s leader Elliott Sadler rounded out the top-10 positions.

Polesitter Keselowski controlled the lead during the beginning stages, though an entire plot shift occurred on Lap 83 during green flag pit stops when the No. 22 Ford was tagged for pit road speeding, forcing him to serve the pass-through penalty.

Capitalizing on misfortune, Busch rocketed into the top spot and appeared to be on cruise control and en route to another Nationwide Series triumph.

However, on Lap 170 points leader Regan Smith made contact with rookie Ryan Reed which sent him spinning into the inside wall, bringing out the caution.

Now the field was presented with a classic 30-lap shootout to decide the victor. Busch led the field back to the green flag and simply maintained his advantage.

Though on Lap 176 Dakoda Armstrong whipped around his machine and backed it up into the wall, forcing NASCAR officials to throw the sixth caution.

On the ensuing restart Busch dueled with Harvick for the lead, but after a few circuits it was the No. 54 Toyota who prevailed.

Harvick’s chances then diminished and it became clear with about 10 laps remaining that Busch was not being denied the spotlight.

Lap 193 changed that picture for Busch as the caution was displayed after Trevor Bayne and 18-year-old Elliott made contact. The incident triggered Bayne to eventually come up and bump Elliott, showing his displeasure.

Nonetheless, the racing continued and on the restart with a mere five laps remaining Harvick shot from a cannon and soared into victory lane capturing the fifth win for JR Motorsports just 15 races into the Nationwide Series schedule.

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” Dale Earnhardt Jr., team owner at JR Motorsports, explained following the event. “Kevin did an awesome job. He didn’t have the best car throughout most of the race, but they improved towards the end.”

The Nationwide Series returns to action next weekend in the Subway Firecracker 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway, a race bound to produce surprises and upsets.

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