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Harvick spoils Earnhardt’s party in Martinsville

by Pete McCole
Sunday, April 3, 2011


Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick spoiled Dale Earnhardt, Jr,’s day with a late race pass to win Sunday’s Goody's Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, extending his win streak to two in a row and Earnhardt’s winless drought to 99 races.

In a race that saw a race record 31 lead changes, Harvick rallied back after struggling with an ill-handling race car to sneak past Kyle Busch for second place on lap 486, then got under Earnhardt with four laps to go and held on for his second win of the 2011 season.

Busch was third, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon.

It was Harvick’s first career victory at NASCAR’s shortest track and first for Richard Childress Racing since 1995.

Harvick puts winning move on Earnhardt Jr.
Getty Images for NASCAR
“Just an awesome day,” said Harvick. “I didn’t think we had the car to do that and just came back up through there.  We put those two tires on and I got to the front and all the sudden everything was woken up.  So I had a lot of fun racing with Dale Jr, and I hate to be the guy that is the bad guy here but we are in it to win it.”

After starting ninth, Harvick had dropped as low as 27th and had his car dinged up in a minor incident early in the race as his team worked to tighten up his no. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet. By lap 385 he was back on the lead lap, had run his fastest lap of the race and was moving back into the top ten.

“My team always preach to me don't ever quit,” said Harvick. “I was pissed at the beginning looking for whatever I needed to do to make the car to go. They just kept making it better. I nearly wrecked it and it got a lot better. I don't know what that means but just kept digging until the end

“I got over being mad and then we just started working on the car and everything just started going our way. The car started handling good and we put two tires on it and I got track position and started gaining positions.”

Busch almost got Earnhardt Jr. at the line (behind lapped white Ford Fusion)
Getty Images for NASCAR
For Earnhardt, Jr., Sunday’s race bittersweet, disappointment in not winning but an inspiring run in a season where he hopes his luck will turn around – having struggled with only one victory since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.

“I'm frustrated that I got close and I was out there leading and I'm thinking I'm going to try to take me home a clock,” said Earnhardt. “I hate it that I didn't win."

“I tried to put together some laps there but the back of car just wasn't into the track enough. Harvick was coming and there just wasn't much I could do. Got a little lose there going down into (turn) one. I wanted to do a little bit of a cross over move and I thought I had that but we got down into turn three, I wanted to keep my nose there but not too much. I don't know what I could have done different.”

Earnhardt, Jr. put himself in a position to win with a solid performance that kept him in the top-10 most of the day before finally pushing his way past Kyle Busch for the lead with 20 laps to go, bringing a rousing reaction from the crowd.

Earnhardt quickly pulled away to a seven car-length lead once Harvick moved past Busch for second, but it wasn’t enough as Harvick closed the distance to make the challenge for the lead.

As he got closer, Earnhardt’s no. 88 Chevy appeared to get loose going through the turns, giving Harvick a chance to get his nose underneath and make the pass.

“I could see the people just going crazy coming off of turn two when (Earnhardt, Jr.) took the lead from Kyle, and I as catching him and I'm like, man, I'm going to be the bad guy here. But I've got to do what I've got to do,” said Harvick.

“I know the fans want to see him win. I want to see him win. I want to see Dale Junior win. It would be great for the sport and I think today went a long ways to showing how competitive that they can be racing for wins, and that's what we need. We all need him to win. But not going to back down.”

For Kyle Busch, it was the second time he two days he’d had the bumper put to him late in the race, after being pushed aside by Johnny Sauter in the late-race pass in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

But looking for his first Martinsville Cup Series victory, Busch led a race-high 151 laps and finish third – for the second week in a row.

“I was holding him up. I sucked. So it was good for him. I mean, he took the lead. No harm, no foul,” said Busch of Earnhardt, Jr.’s pass. “We had one of the best runs here we’ve ever had,” said Busch. “Probably had the best car here today and unfortunately just didn’t win with it.”

Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin rounded out the top ten.


1 9 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 47/1 500 Running
2 26 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 43/1 500 Running
3 11 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Pedigree 43/2 500 Running
4 27 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 40/0 500 Running
5 21 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 40/1 500 Running
6 24 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 38/0 500 Running
7 1 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Widia 38/1 500 Running
8 14 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 36/0 500 Running
9 15 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 36/1 500 Running
10 12 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Quaker State / 34/0 500 Running
11 17 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 34/1 500 Running
12 5 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 33/1 500 Running
13 4 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 31/0 500 Running
14 6 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Best Buy 31/1 500 Running
15 8 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Outdoors Mossy Oak 29/0 500 Running
16 20 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 28/0 500 Running
17 13 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 27/0 500 Running
18 23 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 27/1 500 Running
19 22 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 25/0 498 Running
20 2 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 25/1 498 Running
21 33 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 23/0 498 Running
22 39 32 Ken Schrader Ford VA Mortgage Center 22/0 497 Running
23 34 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Fast Five / Speed Energy 22/1 497 Running
24 32 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 20/0 495 Running
25 40 37 Tony Raines Ford Front Row Motorsports 19/0 493 Running
26 37 09 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Thank A Teacher Today / Security Benefit 0 493 Running
27 7 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Lance Snacks 17/0 489 Running
28 42 71 Hermie Sadler Chevrolet Super Eco-Fuel Saver 0 488 Running
29 19 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 15/0 487 Running
30 29 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet All Sport Body Quencher 14/0 486 Running
31 10 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 13/0 476 Running
32 35 66 Michael McDowell Toyota HP Racing LLC 12/0 470 Running
33 36 34 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 11/0 468 Running
34 28 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 10/0 462 Running
35 25 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 0 460 Running
36 30 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 8/0 457 Running
37 31 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 0 443 Running
38 16 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet NIBCO / Menards 6/0 261 Running
39 3 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 6/1 219 Running
40 18 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 4/0 219 Running
41 41 46 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Red Line Oil 3/0 33 Running
42 38 60 Mike Skinner Toyota Big Red 0 31 Running
43 43 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 0 25 Running

* Denotes Rookie

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