Kevin Harvick, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Hardees 250, Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, VA Kevin Harvick started 12th for Friday's Hardee's 250 at Richmond, but he knew based on how well the ACDelco Chevrolet was running in "Happy...
Kevin Harvick, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet
Hardees 250, Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, VA
Kevin Harvick started 12th for Friday's Hardee's 250 at Richmond, but he knew based on how well the ACDelco Chevrolet was running in "Happy Hour" that he had a car that could contend for the win.
In the early stages of the race, Harvick surged forward even though the car suffered sheet metal damage on the right front during typical short track bumping and banging. Harvick climbed to eighth by lap 7, fifth by lap 13 and fourth by lap 16 even though he was experiencing a mild push from the damage to the right front.
On the first round of pit stops on lap 90, Harvick called for Mike Barry, the right front tire carrier, to fix the fender. Barry tugged on the sheet metal and cleared the right front tire from contact with the fender. Remarkably, Harvick lost only two spots as a result of the repairs and resumed racing in sixth position.
In the middle stages of the race, crew chief Todd Berrier encouraged Harvick to be patient with the lapped traffic because the slower cars were impeding his progress towards the front.
On lap 112, the caution flag flew again and Harvick radioed in that the car's handling had improved considerably. Just a few laps later, Harvick began to run down the second placed car of Jimmy Spencer. On lap 123, Harvick got tangled with Mike Skinner and had to slow down and gather it up. The contact caused him to lose more ground to Spencer, but by lap 143, Harvick was turning the fastest laps on the track.
Harvick pitted on lap 157 for an air pressure adjustment and four fresh tires. He returned to the action in seventh position. At this point, Harvick began to truly work for every position as he had to contend with lapped cars in order to race others in the lead pack.
On lap 194, Harvick found himself racing hard with Greg Biffle, who was the NASCAR Busch Series points leader heading into the race. As Harvick challenged Biffle by getting inside of him in the exit of turn four, Biffle turned down on Harvick and initiated contact. Biffle spun into the wall and ended his day early.
The contact further damaged the right front of the ACDelco machine and Harvick noticed shortly after the race went green again that the tight condition had returned. Only, this time, it was worse. Harvick found himself in the midst of lapped traffic running in the fifth position during the closing laps, but he was unable to advance any further. As the checkered flag flew on lap 250, Harvick recorded his second fifth place finish in a row and his fifth overall. More importantly, he regained the Busch Series points lead as Biffle finished 37th. Harvick leads Jeff Green by 41 points heading into next weekend's race at New Hampshire International Speedway. Spencer won the race with the strongest car in the late going.
"It was a good run for the ACDelco team," Harvick said. "We had a good car all night, but once we got the right front banged in, the car wasn't nearly as good. We couldn't get the car as freed up as you need it at Richmond. Jimmy had a little bit too much for us there at the end. I would've liked to run against him without all the lapped cars and without the damage to the right front. It would've been interesting. I feel bad about what happened to Greg (Biffle). We were both racing hard and I was inside of him. He must not have known that I was there because he came down and there was no where to go. I hate it for him because he had a top ten car. We're happy to get the points lead back, however. Now we have to see if we can build on it and we'll try to do that next week at Loudon."