Rain was the story for most of the weekend at Dover as both qualifying sessions for the Busch and the Winston Cup Series were rained out on Friday. Friday's downpour also washed out Busch final practice so the cars took to the track for the race...
Rain was the story for most of the weekend at Dover as both qualifying sessions for the Busch and the Winston Cup Series were rained out on Friday. Friday's downpour also washed out Busch final practice so the cars took to the track for the race with very little practice time in race trim. Therefore, the teams were making their best guesses in terms of chassis setup for the race.
It was raining when the green flag dropped for the first time shortly after 1 p.m. and the caution flag flew at the end of lap one as the cars tip-toed their way around a very slippery racetrack. The race was red-flagged and the drivers climbed from their cars until just after 3:30 p.m. when the skies began to clear.
Harvick took the second position by lap eight, when the race resumed and then seized the lead from Greg Biffle on lap 32 despite a tight condition. NASCAR displayed the caution flag on lap 50 for the teams to check tire wear and Harvick pitted one lap later. His tires looked good according to crew chief Todd Berrier and the ACDelco team returned him to the track in first position.
Shortly thereafter, Harvick noticed that the car's handling had improved as Matt Kenseth moved his way towards the front of the field. By lap 83, Harvick had a rear view mirror full of Kenseth as they started a 10-lap battle for the lead. Harvick finally succumbed to Kenseth's slightly better car as he slipped into second position.
The caution flag flew for the second time because of rain on lap 127 and Harvick radioed to the crew that he was having trouble staying on the throttle as he was leaving the corners because of a loose condition. The cars were parked on pit road for another hour and a half and the race wasn't restarted for the final time until after 5:00 p.m.
Harvick pitted as soon as pit road opened up on lap 133 and he went in second among the cars that pitted and came out first. The green flag flew two laps later and Harvick checked in ninth in the running order. Harvick noticed the track had changed again because of the rain and the car was loose going into and leaving the corners. The team decided to preserve track position during the caution on lap 159 even though Harvick needed a chassis adjustment. It turned out to be the correct strategic move with the other top three competitors in points running behind him.
The race was caution-laden over the last 40 laps, with the yellow flag flying on laps 159, 170, 176, 180 and 187, all for separate wrecks. Harvick, meanwhile, picked his way through traffic. He climbed to fifth with 10 laps to go, fourth with six and passed teammate Mike Skinner after a lengthy duel for third with just four laps to go. The third place finish was his eighth top-five of the season and he also collected the 10-point bonus for leading the most laps with 59.
Harvick's points rivals, Jeff Green, Biffle and Jason Keller, finished 29th, ninth and 13th, respectively as Harvick opened up a 75-point lead over second place Green after 15 of 33 races. It's the fourth time this season that Harvick has grabbed the top spot in the points. The series enjoys one weekend off before returning to action on June 17th at Kentucky Speedway where Harvick will compete in his second Double Duty weekend with the Pocono Winston Cup race on Sunday. Harvick will not have this coming weekend off, however. He will be competing in the Cup race at Michigan on Sunday.