Harvick takes controversial Busch win
NASCAR's first foray into Canada produced a melee in Turn 1 on a restart with four laps to go and a scoring decision that turned the NAPA Auto Parts 200 NASCAR Busch Series race inside out.
For the record, Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag Saturday in front of a packed house at the vaunted Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, holding off local Quebec favorite Patrick Carpentier by 0.338 seconds in a green-white-checkered finish to win the first NASCAR event on Canadian soil.
Harvick started the race from the rear of the field because he missed qualifying the No. 21 car while tending to his Nextel Cup duties at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.
Harvick took the checkered flag because NASCAR refused to display it to Robby Gordon in an ending reminiscent of Davey Allison's controversial victory over Ricky Rudd at Infineon Raceway in 1991.
As Rudd had 16 years ago, Gordon crossed the finish line first, but was not declared the race winner because he failed to drop back in the running order for the final restart, according to NASCAR's instructions.
In full view of NASCAR's top brass -- including chairman and CEO Brian France and president Mike Helton -- Gordon matched Harvick with a burnout of his own on the frontstretch.
"You always go back to your position, if you get spun out," an embittered Gordon said after the race. "Marcos (Ambrose) spun me under the (final) caution. They told me originally, 'Go back to second place.' Halfway around the last lap, they told me to go back to 13th place, 14th place, something like that.
"I was never running 13th or 14th, so I don't know what to say. I completed the most laps; I was the first car to complete 'em -- I won the race. You guys can say I got into the back of (Ambrose) over here. He got into the back of me over there. It's just a huge disappointment."
NASCAR doubtless won't take Gordon's actions lightly. Among the penalties facing the driver of the No. 55 Ford is a probable suspension from Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 Nextel Cup race at Pocono.
Gordon had taken the lead from Ambrose after a restart on Lap 71, while a multicar pileup in Turn 1 brought out the final caution of the race. With the yellow flag waving in Turn 4, Ambrose spun Gordon, who was unable to hold his position in the running order.
Accordingly, NASCAR instructed Gordon to fall back behind Ron Fellows, who was running 12th at the time. Gordon refused and took the green flag on the Lap 74 restart behind Ambrose, who held the lead at the time.
Gordon got to the front by spinning Ambrose moments after the restart and pulled away from the Harvick-Carpentier battle to cross the finish line first -- to no avail. NASCAR scored him one lap down in 18th place at the finish.
Max Papis was credited with a third-place finish, followed by Fellows, Stephen Leicht, Kyle Krisiloff and Ambrose. Brad Coleman, David Reutimann and Jeff Burton completed the top 10.
"The last four or five laps were pretty wild," said Harvick, who won his fourth Busch race of the season in 16 starts and the 30th of his career. "There was a lot of pushing and shoving and everybody running into each other -- a lot like short-track racing."
Harvick thought Gordon should have complied with NASCAR's instructions to fall back in the running order.
"We've all been in that situation," he said. "At that point, you might as well just give up, because you're not going to win the fight. If you don't maintain the pace of the caution car, you go back to where you fell in."
Note: Points leader Carl Edwards took the No. 60 Ford to the garage on Lap 27 with a broken truck arm mount (suspension part) and lost 10 laps during the repairs. He finished 30th. . . Driver John Graham may have finished three laps in arrears in 23rd place, but his car had the best name in the NASCAR Busch Series this year, the No. 10 Kick Butt Amped Energy Ballz Toyota.
RESULTS: NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Race 23 of the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series
1. #21 Kevin Harvick 75 laps
2. #22 Patrick Carpentier
3. #1 Max Papis
4. #33 Ron Fellows
5. #90 Stephen Leicht
6. #14 Kyle Krisiloff
7. #59 Marcos Ambrose
8. #18 Brad Coleman
9. #99 David Reutimann
10. #29 Jeff Burton
Marcos Ambrose 37
Patrick Carpentier 14
Scott Pruett 9
Niclas Jonsson 5
Ron Fellows 4
Boris Said 4
Kevin Harvick 2