Kevin Harvick Finishes Third at Richmond, Seizes Control of Points Lead With a bright orange Reese's Chevrolet Impala, Kevin Harvick finished third on Saturday night in Richmond, and seized control of the championship standings by 10 markers...
Kevin Harvick Finishes Third at Richmond, Seizes Control of Points Lead
With a bright orange Reese's Chevrolet Impala, Kevin Harvick finished third on Saturday night in Richmond, and seized control of the championship standings by 10 markers over his nearest competitor. Harvick ran all 400 laps inside the top 15, and scored his fourth top-five and seventh top-10 finish in the season's first 10 races. A welcomed weekend with no threat of rain greeted NASCAR's premier division at Richmond, and the Gil Martin-led team set the 10th and 13th fastest laps in Friday's practice sessions. The Bakersfield, Calif., driver spent nearly the entire day in race trim, as the Reese's crew worked on finding the right balance for their No. 29 machine.
During Friday evening's qualifying session, Harvick turned in a lap of 126.133 mph around the 0.75-mile track. The effort was good enough to line their Chevrolet Impala seventh on the 43-car grid. Fellow RCR stablemates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton qualified 10th and 17th, respectively.
An estimated 93,000 fans packed Richmond International Raceway for the Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400. As the sun set on the horizon, the 43 machines took the green flag for some good short-track racing. Commonly referred to as a driver's favorite, two and sometimes three-wide racing is commonplace at Richmond.
Harvick took the green flag and in just two laps, he entered the top five, where he would be a mainstay throughout the majority of the race.
Reporting that the car was good everywhere but just needed a little more forward bite off the corners, Martin and Company made a minor air pressure adjustment during the night's first caution flag period on lap 44. A great stop by the team put Harvick back on the track in the second position.
Each time the caution was displayed, the team would again only make minor air pressure adjustments in their Goodyear tires. But a slow pit stop at lap 172 would shuffle Harvick back to 12th for the lap 176 restart.
Rather than dwell on the misfortune, Harvick turned it into an opportunity to show the fans and his competitors that his Reese's Chevy was a legitimate threat for the win. In just 11 laps, Harvick made his way back inside the top 10. At lap 211, Harvick was running in the top five.
The long green flag run continued, and teams started making green-flag pit stops at lap 265. Martin instructed Harvick to remain on the track until he took the lead on lap 266, thus earning five bonus points.
After all of the pit stops had cycled through, Harvick was in the second position behind Jeff Gordon.
During the closing laps, Harvick's car became too tight in the center of the corner and loose off to take the lead from Gordon and Kyle Busch, and the orange Reese's machine crossed the finish line in third at the checkered flag.
Harvick's RCR teammates Burton led 20 laps and finished fourth, while Bowyer finished 12th. Kyle Busch won the race, and he was chased to the stripe by Gordon, Harvick, Burton and Carl Edwards.
Harvick leads the championship standings over Jimmie Johnson by 10 points, while Burton and Bowyer are ninth and 12th, respectively.
Next weekend NASCAR's premier division will travel to Darlington, SC, for the running of the Showtime Southern 500.
KEVIN HARVICK: "It was a solid night for us. We were right in the middle of the top five all night, which is where you have to be to have a chance to win. I am extremely happy with our Reese's team. To have the points lead is nice, and it shows everyone that RCR is ready to contend for the title. But we can't sit back on our hands, we have to keep pushing forward, and I know that we are doing that."