Harvick Builds Points Lead With Third Place Finish At Memphis Rain was the story at Memphis this past weekend where the NASCAR Busch Series was running race No. 30 on the 33-race schedule. Friday's qualifying session was cancelled because of ...
Harvick Builds Points Lead With Third Place Finish At Memphis
Rain was the story at Memphis this past weekend where the NASCAR Busch Series was running race No. 30 on the 33-race schedule. Friday's qualifying session was cancelled because of early morning rain so NASCAR decided to start the field by points and give the field several hours of practice.
Saturday morning looked much like Friday morning with dark skies and rain threatening. The rain came during mid-morning and was hard at times. By 3:00 p.m., NASCAR decided to postpone the race until 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. That presented a dilemma for Harvick. With the Winston Cup race at Martinsville on Sunday at 1 p.m, Harvick was going to have to choose between the two races. What he chose, because of the championship chase in the Busch Series, was the Busch race. There was hope however, for rain in Martinsville on Sunday. If the race were to be postponed, he would be able to run Martinsville on Monday.
As the Busch race got going on Sunday in Memphis, Harvick slipped back to fourth as his car got heated up. Harvick asked crew chief Todd Berrier for more "forward bite" which would help him accelerate off of the corners and keep up with the leaders at the time, Jeff Green, Harvick's RCR teammate Johnny Sauter and Greg Biffle.
Harvick pitted for the first time under caution for four tires and an air pressure adjustment on lap 62. The ACDelco team nailed the pit stop and sent Harvick out on the track in second position after coming in fourth. Harvick noticed almost immediately that the ACDelco car had improved. He seized the lead on lap 84 and gained the valuable five-point bonus.
During the second round of pit stops on lap 133, Harvick went in second and returned in second as Berrier again made adjustments to cure the loose condition.
One of the most exciting moments of the race came with just about 75 laps to go when Harvick challenged Jeff Green for the lead. They ran side-by-side, with Harvick on the high side, for five laps before Green pulled away. Green and Harvick made contact on several occasions and tire marks where clearly visible on the left side of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet.
The final round of pit stops came on lap 209 when Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Several teams took only two tires in order to gain track position and that put Green and Harvick back to 14th and 15th in the running order, respectively. Harvick and Green began charging through the field with a sense of urgency as the race went green with just 36 laps to go.
Harvick clawed his way through the field during one of the roughest stretches of racing on the Busch Series this season. Harvick grabbed 10th by lap 225 and eighth just three laps later. He claimed the seventh position by lap 231, sixth by lap 235 and fifth by lap 236.
Harvick ran solidly in the fifth spot for the closing laps as the last of the cars that took only two tires came back to him. Harvick avoided the last lap fireworks that drove Jay Sauter back in the field and gave Randy Lajoie the top position and eventually the win. Harvick finished third while Green was second.
More importantly, Harvick gained valuable points in the championship race as second place Jason Keller finished seventh. Harvick now leads Green by 203 points with just three races remaining.
The team got excellent news about halfway through the race as the Martinsville race was rained out until Monday, which enabled Harvick to run the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet.
"That was a great day for us," Harvick said. "We accomplished what we came here to do. We are interested in the points lead right now, either building it or maintaining it. We finished behind Jeff (Green) but we built the lead. With three races left, every race is critical. The ACDelco guys made good adjustments for us today which gave us a car that could contend for a top three. Things got pretty exciting at times but we never put ourselves in jeopardy. At this time in the season we need to complete every lap and get good finishes. I'm really happy to be able to compete in the Cup race tomorrow. That was really good to hear during the race."
The Busch Series enjoys its final off weekend of the year this week and then returns for the final three races of the year starting at Phoenix on October 27th.