Harvick passes Hamlin, holds on to win at Michigan

Posted: 16/08/2010 in NASCAR

Harvick clinches spot in Chase with Michigan win

BROOKLYN, MI- AUGUST 15

Kevin Harvick became the first driver to lock down a position in the championship Chase after winning Sunday’s CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Harvick  gambled on  fuel and tires when  he opted to stay on the track, while most  of the leaders  pitted for the final time during a late-race caution. He passed  Denny Hamlin with 11 laps remaining and then beat Hamlin at the finish by  1.7 seconds for his third victory of the season and the 14th of his Sprint Cup Series career. Harvick also won at Michigan for the first time in his 20th Cup start here.

“It’s really been a great weekend all around and a great year, for that fact,” said  Harvick, who  led a total of 60 laps.  “It’s a lot of fun to come to the racetrack  right now. Everybody is doing a great job of not only continuing to press  but to  put better  things  on the  racetrack and  put things  together correctly and just do a great job at the shop.”

Harvick  recorded his  first Cup  win on  a non-restrictor  plate track  since November 2006 at Phoenix. He also gave RCR its first Cup win at Michigan since Dale Earnhardt did it in 1990.

“It’s  been 20 years since RCR won,” team owner Richard Childress said. “Kevin almost  had the race several years ago. We broke a distributor. I can remember that  one. We’ve had  some really good runs. But to be able to put it together today, Kevin, he’s figured out how to make this thing work in the groove.”

The  34-year-old Harvick  has been enjoying a complete turnaround this season, as  he now holds a 293-point lead over Jeff Gordon, who finished 27th. Harvick sat 23rd in points when the series raced at Michigan one year ago.

With  three  races  remaining  before  the Chase  begins  next  month  in  New Hampshire,  Jimmie Johnson and Hamlin lead the series with five victories each so far this season. Harvick is now second in line with his three wins.

“We’re going to enjoy it and we’re going to hopefully be ready for the last 10 weeks,” Harvick added.

Hamlin  has not  won a race since  the series last came to Michigan two months ago.

“This  is  the kind  of run we  needed to kind  of get  back into the swing of things, but we still need to get better,” second-place finisher Hamlin said.

Carl  Edwards finished  third, while  his Roush  Fenway Racing  teammates Greg Biffle,  who led the  most laps with 66, and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top- five.

Team  owner Jack  Roush returned to the  track for the first time this weekend after  suffering serious facial and back injuries during a plane crash on July 27 in Oshkosh, WI.

Tony   Stewart   finished  sixth,  and   Juan  Pablo  Montoya,  who  won  last weekend  on the road course in Watkins Glen, NY, took the seventh spot. Martin Truex   Jr.,  Elliott  Sadler  and  Joey  Logano  were  eighth  through  10th, respectively.

Mark  Martin  and Kurt Busch  suffered major blows in  their bids to make this year’s Chase.

Martin  fell out  of the  top-12 in  points after  a disappointing  28th-place finish.  He  suffered damage to the  nose and front  fender of his car when he made contact with the wall in the opening laps.

“The  car was really  fast that last run, but it took the whole race to fix up my mistakes,” Martin said. “I was real aggressive early in the race, and I got that damage in the front.”

Martin   fell  to  13th  in  the  rankings  and  trails  Clint  Bowyer  by  35 points for the 12th spot. Bowyer finished 13th.

Kurt  Busch  blew an engine  and retired from the  race after 30 laps. Busch’s 40th-place finish dropped him from fourth to 10th in the standings.

– Stephen (DS LLC.)

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