The season's champion was also today's champion as the Kevin Harvick Coast Guard Chevrolet won the O'Reilly Challenge 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, the fastest Busch race ever at TMS (average speed 145.71 mph.) This is Harvick's ninth...
The season's champion was also today's champion as the Kevin Harvick Coast Guard Chevrolet won the O'Reilly Challenge 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, the fastest Busch race ever at TMS (average speed 145.71 mph.) This is Harvick's ninth NASCAR Busch Series win of the season, his third TMS Busch win and the 26th of his career. He is close to matching Sam Ard's 1983 record of ten race wins in one season.
Harvick joked that his wife is a Sam Ard fan, and "I've already had a tongue-lashing to leave Sam alone." Not likely; the trophy case in the newly-built Harvick home is already full of hardware from his dominating track performances.
A lot of teams had fuel worries, including Harvick, who literally ran out of gas on the last lap after leading for the final 56 laps. He didn't even have enough in the tank for a celebratory burnout.
"After the first pit we knew we'd made the car substantially better..we made big tire and air adjustments," said Harvick. "I give credit to Shane [Wilson, crew chief.] We run so well because they've prepared so well; they do the small things right."
Right after the race, second place finisher Tony Stewart commented that he and Harvick "really had two identical cars today, the two fastest, obviously. This is the first Monte Carlo I've brought back to Joe Gibbs Racing not destroyed [laughter.]
"This was really a fun race. You had three cars that were just so even.we were trying to move a foot here and a foot there to get an advantage..we went 60-something laps there at the end and there was only a second's margin between Harvick and me. His domination and consistency is unbelievable, and to have his Sunday commitment [Cup races] also; I don't know that there's anyone else in the garage who could do that."
Third place finisher Jeff Burton gave plenty of credit to Harvick's spectacular run this season.
"This is just one of those years when everything goes right [for Harvick.] I looked at the board and saw that Carl Edwards is, what, over 800 points behind him? How do you do that? That's a dream season."
After Mark Martin led the opening lap, Auggie Vidovich made a bit of contact with Max Papis in lap 4. Papis came back as the Lucky Dog a couple of laps later for the caution following a Reed Sorenson bounce off the wall.
Unfortunately Papis's good fortune ran out and his race ended after lap 78, when Jay Sauter's 01 car spun out in front of and then bounced off of Papis.
"We wanted to finish the race strong," said Papis. "I did everything I could. I would like to thank everyone, and we will be back."
Jason Leffler was out with a blown engine at lap 57, and Shane Huffman's Navy car and race were sunk around lap 66.
Huffman commented, "I blew a rear tire. It was real unfortunate. I hate it for these guys [his crew.] They worked really hard out here today. We were super fast off of the truck."
Vidovich went out with engine problems at lap 87.
Paul Menard had all sorts of vibration issues and it took awhile to nail down the cause; a pit stop to change the two right side tires and then another pit to swap out the two left ones.
Number two qualifier Kyle Busch had a frustrating day, with a one-lap penalty for pitting outside of his box. He came in for the penalty but didn't wait for the lap and drove back out of the pit while the officials were waving at him to stop. Once the confusion was cleared up he came back in and sat for the penalty.
Things settled out by lap 180, with the top five of Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, pole winner Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne, but Kahne would run out of gas and exit at lap 197 while Harvick continued to Victory Lane.
Ron Hornaday, Jr. replaced Kahne in fifth place.
Juan Pablo Montoya was 28th; his Texaco/Havoline Dodge had to make a pit stop just before the green flag for a quick repair to his left front, which was damaged during qualifying.
There were four cautions for 19 laps and 11 lead changes among seven drivers.