Harvick becomes first pole winner to capture Brickyard 400 INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003 -- Kevin Harvick made Brickyard 400 history Aug. 3, becoming the first pole sitter to win in the 10-year history of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race...
Harvick becomes first pole winner to capture Brickyard 400
INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003 -- Kevin Harvick made Brickyard 400 history Aug. 3, becoming the first pole sitter to win in the 10-year history of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Harvick pulled away on a late restart in the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet and beat Winston Cup Series points leader Matt Kenseth by 2.758 seconds for his first career Brickyard 400 victory and first victory this season. He averaged 134.554 mph.
"I can't believe this," Harvick said. "I don't even know if I can explain it. It's so awesome. I can't wait to kiss the bricks."
Rookie Jamie McMurray finished third in the No. 42 Havoline Dodge, 4.587 seconds behind Harvick. It was the best finish for a Brickyard 400 rookie since the inaugural year in 1994.
Three-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon was fourth in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, and 2002 Brickyard 400 winner Bill Elliott rounded out the top five in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge.
Harvick's victory fulfilled a dream that was spawned when he was a youngster growing up in Bakersfield, Calif., home of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears.
"I told Matt (Yocum, NBC pit reporter) I've got a picture hanging on my wall that says, 'Good luck, hope to see you here someday,' from Rick Mears. Damn if we aren't here in victory lane at the Brickyard. This is awesome."
Harvick took the lead for good during an intense duel on Lap 145 after a restart.
McMurray led when the green flag flew on Lap 145, with Robby Gordon and Harvick in pursuit. Harvick pulled past McMurray and Gordon toward the end of the lap when a seven-car incident between Turns 3 and 4 triggered the final caution period of the race. It was the last of 17 lead changes among 12 drivers.
The No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford driven by Kurt Busch hit the rear of No. 5 Kellogg's/got milk? Chevrolet between Turns 3 and 4, collecting the cars driven by Sterling Marlin, 1997 Brickyard 400 winner Ricky Rudd, Jimmie Johnson, Mike Skinner and Joe Nemechek in the melee. No one was injured.
Harvick led the field on the final restart on Lap 151, leading by .633 of a second over teammate Robby Gordon in the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet after one lap around the historic, 2.5-mile oval.
Then Harvick pulled away on Lap 152, expanding his lead to 1.311 seconds over Gordon.
By Lap 155, the race for the checkered was over, as Harvick's lead grew to 3.491 seconds. Meanwhile, McMurray used drafting help from behind from Kenseth to pass Gordon entering Turn 3 for second. Kenseth also squeaked his No. 17 Smirnoff Ice Triple Black/DeWalt Ford past Gordon to take third.
Kenseth then passed McMurray for second on the inside of Turn 3 on Lap 157. Kenseth expanded his series lead to 286 points over Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 14th in the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet.
"I was a little too far behind," Kenseth said. "All my guys did a great job. We had good pit stops, and we had a good strategy. I knew it was going to be tough to get around the 31 and then get around the 29."
Defending Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart appeared to be the driver to beat midway through the 160-lap race. He started 15th in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet but picked his way through the pack and climbed to the lead by Lap 26.
Stewart led a total of 60 laps -- more than any other driver -- and led at the 60-, 70-, 80, 90- and 100-lap marks. Stewart's lead ballooned to 10.272 seconds on Lap 88.
But the field gradually reined in Stewart, and he led for the last time on Lap 106. Stewart lost ground on a green-flag pit stop on Lap 131, and many of the other leading cars pitted after a caution on Lap 139.
"Poor finish," said Greg Zipadelli, Stewart's crew chief. "The Home Depot Monte Carlo ran good all day. The guys put up a great car. We kind of had a poor pit stop and gave up track position and kind of struggled from there."
"We put tires on that were a little loose. We were still doing OK, and then that caution came out and gave up all of that ground and big lead that you had. Just from that point on, it seemed like with 30 or 40 to go or whatever, we just struggled. Nothing went our way or did not play the right game."
Harvick and Richard Childress Racing definitely played the right game. The victory returned Childress' team to victory lane at Indianapolis for the first time since late seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt won the 1995 Brickyard 400.
"Anything we can do that Dale Earnhardt did is an accomplishment," Harvick said. "That's why we still have this '3' on the side (of the car). He's what made this whole organization what it is today. I'm just glad to be a part of it."