Kevin Harvick rolls to rain-delayed victory at Bristol Motor Speedway
It took about 20 hours longer than anyone anticipated, but Kevin Harvick emerged the winner in Sunday's rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race actually ended up being run totally in daylight. The finish was postponed until Sunday when rains hit the track after just 48 laps were turned Saturday night, and then the rescheduled start was delayed another 3 1/2 hours by more nasty weather on Sunday.
Harvick started 24th on Saturday, but did not fret because he knew his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet was fast. He moved up through the field quickly after the race was restarted on Sunday, and eventually took advantage of the massive trouble encountered by other top contenders who fell by the wayside.
It was Harvick's second win of the season, but his first since he won at Phoenix in mid-March. He celebrated by inviting his car owner and fellow SHR driver Tony Stewart, who is retiring at the end of the season, to join him in a double-burnout, much to the delight of the fans who stuck around.
"I wanted him to take a victory lap with me to say good-bye and thank all the fans one last time here at Bristol. But that was pretty cool, doing burnouts with him," Harvick said.
Others were not nearly as fortunate as Harvick at the 0.533-mile short track, where wrecks and tempers often flare up.
Kurt Busch was battling for the lead on Lap 371 when he made a miscalculation that cost him dearly.
Fellow drivers Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Blaney, among others, also paid a heavy price for Busch's mistake after he got loose and took a hit from behind by Keselowski, setting off a chain reaction of events that immediately led to Blaney plowing right into the side of Kenseth.
Busch admitted it was his fault after miscalculating "by a few inches" where he placed his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet on the track as he fought in close quarters for the lead with the No. 22 Ford of Joey Logano.
"I think I just missed the bottom groove by a few inches, got loose and the wreck was on," Busch said. "The way that our car was restarting it felt comfortable, it felt good. That inside (groove) with the rosin and the VHT, if you don't hit it exactly right you lose a lot of time.
"I tried to make up for it and got loose. I feel really bad for the Monster Energy guys. We had a win in our sights and I just drove the car at 101 percent instead of that 99 that I probably needed to be at."
Keselowski said there was nothing he could do to prevent his No. 2 Ford from hitting Busch's car.
"He got loose and by the time I saw it I was already making contact with him," Keselowski said. "It was kind of one of those Bristol things."
Earlier, Kurt's younger brother Kyle Busch had the dominant car, leading a race-high total of 252 laps over the first 350. But then his day also came to an early and ugly end.
Busch began to complain that he thought he might have a broken right-rear shock. Then his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota spun in Turn 2, triggering a wreck that also took out Martin Truex Jr.
And after Busch went around, he got tagged hard by Justin Allgaier, all of which left Busch understandably unhappy â not only with Allgaier for failing to slow down before hitting him, but also with his JGR group because of the parts failure.
"It's a shame," he said. "The last few times we've been here, we've had really fast M&M's Toyota Camrys and we haven't been able to finish.
"We've been having parts failures here. So it's something we got to address and fix. I'm really tired of losing races here with parts falling apart."
But Busch saved his harshest words for Allgaier and his spotter. Allgaier was subbing in the No. 46 Chevy for Michael Annett, who sat out the race because of flu-like symptoms.
"The person that's the biggest moron out there is the spotter on the 46 and the driver of the 46," Busch said. "I'd been wrecking for half a lap and they just came through and cleaned us out. That's stupid."
Harvick survived all the stupidty and calamity to score not only his second win of this season, but his second career win at Bristol. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. put on a late charge to finish a season-high second, with Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher rounding out the top five.
"We should have won a lot of races this year, but we just had things not go our way," said Harvick, who remains the series points leader. "But to get back to Victory Lane here at Bristol feels really good."