Harvick wins Nationwide race at Richmond
AP Sports Writer
RICHMOND, Va (AP) – Kevin Harvick passed Brad Keselowski for the lead with just over 50 laps to go Friday night and won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race for his third victory of the season and 37th overall.
Keselowski fell just short in an otherwise remarkable performance.
The series points leader went two laps down after a pit road problem before the midpoint of the 250-lap event at Richmond International Raceway. But he was back up to third when a caution flag came out with 46 laps to go. He was still third after the leaders all pitted, but spent the last 10 laps within a few car lengths of the leader.
“We just weren’t good enough to beat Kevin legit tonight,” he said.
Harvick slapped the wall at one point with Keselowski right behind him, but held on.
“The way the lapped traffic fell just wasn’t real good for us, and then I got a little aggressive with the throttle and got the thing sideways,” he said of his contact with the safer barrier. “You can’t hardly tell the thing hit the wall, and hit it pretty hard.”
Keselowski said he saved his tires for one final late push, but was still pleased.
“To come back and get to the front and have a chance for the win, that’s the sign of a really strong team,” he said after padding his lead over Carl Edwards to 373 points with eight races remaining in the season. Kyle Busch is third, now 583 points behind.
Trevor Bayne finished third, matching his best finish of the season, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Reed Sorenson.
In the third race of the season run with what will be the new series cars next season, Harvick led the first 109 laps, then retook the lead with just over 50 to go.
A caution shortly thereafter sent all the leaders to pit road, and while it took Harvick a few laps to get by cars that had stayed out, the stop was a disaster for Kyle Busch.
Seeking a record 11th victory of the season, Busch seemed in solid position to make a late challenge. But after leaving pit road, he had to return, apparently because a nozzle broke off the fuel can and was still in the car as he drove away. The return trip to his pit dropped him from third in the field to 20th, and he wound up ninth.
Harvick led 170 of the 250 laps and won for the fifth time in his career at Richmond, tying Mark Martin for the series lead on the 0.75-mile oval.
Harvick also became the third driver to win in next year’s car. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the first at Daytona, and Keselowski won last month at Michigan.