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Harvick pulls away in Michigan

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sunday, August 15, 2010

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When you have a comfortable points lead, you can afford to gamble.

That’s what Kevin Harvick did—successfully—in Sunday’s Carfax 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

Staying out on old tires under the final caution of the race, Harvick tracked down Denny Hamlin on Lap 190 of 200 and pulled away to beat Hamlin to the finish line by 1.731 seconds. Harvick extended his series lead to 293 points over Jeff Gordon and became the first driver to clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

After NASCAR threw a yellow for debris on Lap 167, Harvick restarted second behind Tony Stewart on Lap 173. Hamlin, who restarted third, took the top spot from Stewart on Lap 178, with Harvick following. Running the top of the 2-mile track, Harvick passed Hamlin through Turns 3 and 4 after Hamlin’s Toyota began to lose grip on the bottom.

The victory was Harvick’s first at Michigan, his third of the season and the 14th of his career. Roush Fenway Racing drivers Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth claimed positions three through five. Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., Elliott Sadler and Joey Logano completed the top 10.

“The biggest concern I had was the tires,” Harvick said of the call to stay out.

“Once we got through those first three or four or five laps, the new tires kind of evened out. Our car was so good up on the top. We were a little off on the restarts, but what a great day. This hasn’t been the best track for us.”

Harvick’s pass of Hamlin represented a 20-point swing in bonus points to start the Chase. Harvick now has 30, 10 for each win, and prevented Hamlin from adding to his 50-point total. The bonus points will kick in after the Chase field is set Sept. 11 at Richmond.

Hamlin, who also stayed out during the final caution, said he wasn’t sure whether the strategy would serve him well until the last restart.

We didn’t know whether the guys with four tires were going to eat us up or not,” Hamlin said. “I think five laps into that (run) when me, Harvick and Tony started pulling away, I realized it was a three-car race for the win at that point.

“But really it just seemed like whoever could get their car up front was pretty strong. You lose one spot, next thing you know your car handles a little worse and you lose more. It’s a tough balance out there to try to get track position, but you got to have everything working right for you to get that track position. Once you get it, obviously the fastest car won today. So it was at least good to see that.”

In the race within a race, Mark Martin dealt a blow to his chances to qualify for the Chase in the opening laps. Racing in dirty air in close quarters with Edwards, Martin scraped the outside wall, damaged the right-front of his No. 5 Chevrolet and crippled the handling of the car.

Martin finished 28th and lost the 12th position in the standings to Clint Bowyer, who came home 13th. Martin trails Bowyer by 35 points with three races left before the Chase field is set.

Notes: Polesitter Kasey Kahne faded in the late stages of the race and finished 14th. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran 19th and dropped to 17th in the standings, 129 points behind Bowyer. … Edwards posted his sixth straight top-10 finish, as Roush Fenway Racing placed three cars in the top five for the first time this season.

Results

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 8 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 190/5 200 Running
2 33 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 175/5 200 Running
3 24 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 165/0 200 Running
4 6 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 170/10 200 Running
5 7 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 155/0 200 Running
6 4 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 155/5 200 Running
7 5 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 146/0 200 Running
8 9 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 147/5 200 Running
9 23 19 Elliott Sadler Ford Henry Ford Museum: Racing in America 143/5 200 Running
10 27 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 134/0 200 Running
11 29 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 135/5 200 Running
12 2 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 132/5 200 Running
13 3 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 124/0 200 Running
14 1 9 Kasey Kahne Ford Budweiser 121/0 200 Running
15 37 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie 118/0 200 Running
16 14 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 115/0 200 Running
17 16 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Insignia HDTV / Best Buy 112/0 200 Running
18 18 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 109/0 200 Running
19 38 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard - Drive the Guard / Amp Energy 106/0 200 Running
20 19 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Philips Norelco Bodygroom Pro 103/0 200 Running
21 20 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 100/0 200 Running
22 30 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 97/0 200 Running
23 17 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Tornados 94/0 200 Running
24 11 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Cat Financial 91/0 200 Running
25 31 82 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 88/0 200 Running
26 34 83 Reed Sorenson Toyota Red Bull 85/0 200 Running
27 36 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 82/0 200 Running
28 12 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 79/0 200 Running
29 25 26 Patrick Carpentier Ford Air National Guard 76/0 200 Running
30 32 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 78/5 200 Running
31 39 34 Tony Raines Ford Front Row Motorsports 70/0 200 Running
32 28 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 67/0 200 Running
33 40 71 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 64/0 198 Running
34 26 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 61/0 197 Running
35 10 98 Paul Menard Ford MasterCraft Doors / Menards 58/0 197 Running
36 42 37 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 55/0 195 Running
37 41 7 P.J. Jones Toyota SpeedFactory.tv 52/0 64 Brakes
38 15 09 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 49/0 54 Electrical
39 35 207 Robby Gordon Toyota SpeedFactory.tv 46/0 34 Brakes
40 13 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite / Vortex 43/0 30 Engine
41 21 13 Max Papis Toyota GEICO 40/0 27 Rear Gear
42 43 55 Michael McDowell Toyota Prism Motorsports 37/0 20 Electrical
43 22 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota FrontRowJoe.com 34/0 14 Ign

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