Kevin Harvick, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Outback Steakhouse 300, Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, KY Saturday, June 16, 2001 ACDelco Team Engineers Finest Comeback Of Season To Capture Second Win For those folks who have been following Kevin Harvick's...
Kevin Harvick, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet
Outback Steakhouse 300, Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, KY
Saturday, June 16, 2001
ACDelco Team Engineers Finest Comeback Of Season To Capture Second Win
For those folks who have been following Kevin Harvick's "2001: A Race Odyssey" this year, you're fully aware of the demands that his 69-race schedule has put on both himself and his race team. This past weekend was the second of seven "Double Duty" weekends where Harvick is competing in both the Busch and Winston Cup Series races at different tracks in different states. This past weekend Harvick raced in Kentucky and Pocono, on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
From the Busch side of the equation, the weekend was going well for the ACDelco team. Harvick was fast at Kentucky, near the top of the speed chart during the first practice on Thursday. Friday, Harvick practiced and qualified 19th at Pocono at his first ever start at the tricky 2.5-mile oval. Harvick returned to Kentucky for qualifying that evening, but Mother Nature didn't cooperate as qualifying was rained out and postponed until Saturday at 12 p.m.
Harvick was back in Pocono on Saturday morning for one practice and then flew back to Kentucky for qualifying. Unbeknownst to Harvick, Mike Bliss, a backup driver that RCR had in place just in case, took the car out to practice and he wrecked. The damage, suffered in a collision with the turn four wall, forced the team to pull out the backup car.
Harvick arrived at the track to find out that he would be qualifying the backup car at 12 p.m. without having taken a lap in the car that weekend. The ACDelco team scrambled to get the car into qualifying trim and Harvick took to the track for two hard laps. The first lap, he took it slower through turns three and four than usual because several competitors had suffered accidents there. He then put the proverbial "hammer down" on lap two and turned the 11th fastest time in the field. He and the team breathed a collective sigh of relief and began to prepare for the race.
As the race got underway, Harvick surged forward immediately. He captured the eighth position before the end of lap one and busted his way into the top five just two laps later. He passed Tim Fedewa on lap 25 for the third position and slipped by Jason Keller on lap 57 for second. Harvick radioed to the crew that the car was a little too loose, but he still piloted the second fastest car on the track at the time.
Harvick pitted for the first time on lap 68 for tires and fuel. He lucked out in a way because some of his fellow competitors had come in for fuel under the green flag and had gone a lap down. But when the caution flag flew, they seized the opportunity. Harvick came into the pits second and went back out first, ahead of the leader Jeff Green, with a stellar pit stop by the ACDelco crew.
When the race went green again on lap 74, Harvick stretched his lead over Greg Biffle. Not long after that on lap 89, Harvick's points rival, Green, suffered a wreck that put him behind the wall and out of contention.
The ACDelco team executed another flawless stop on lap 135, as Harvick went in first and came out first. On lap 142, a series of cautions began as many competitors started jockeying for position. The yellow flag flew on laps 149, 167 and 182 while Harvick established himself again and again as the car to beat. The race's final restart came on lap 188 and Harvick again kept Biffle at bay. On lap 200, Harvick crossed the finish line first for the second time this year on the Busch Series, fifth time in his career.
"This performance tonight says a lot about this ACDelco team," Harvick said. "We wrecked a car in practice and had to get the backup together in very little time. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) and the guys got the car together and got it handling just about the same as our primary with only but a couple of practice laps with Mike Bliss. We were able to get qualified and we improved the car during both stops with minor adjustments. It's a good car even though it was the backup. It's the car that we won a couple of races with last year. The guys gave me the lead with that first pit stop and we never really looked back. This racetrack was a whole lot of fun to drive. The groove widened out and we could race side-by-side. It's also a lot of fun when you've got a good car, a car that can win the race."
Harvick led the most laps of the race with 131 and built his points lead to 122 points over second place Biffle. The Busch Series enjoys a weekend off June 23-24th and returns to action in Wisconsin at the Milwaukee Mile on Sunday, July 1st.