Harvick wins Nationwide race
Kevin Harvick took advantage of a late caution to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway.
Harvick and crew chief Ernie Cope gambled by taking two tires when the eighth yellow flag of the day came out with 34 laps to go. That enabled Harvick to seize the lead from Kyle Busch, who was unable to mount a challenge as the race wound down.
"We were 10 laps short (on fuel) and it seemed like there were a lot of cautions," Harvick said. "We were in conservation mode so we did what we needed to do to play it both ways. We had options and weren't in a box like some other guys were, having to pit under green. If you have to do that you're pretty much done."
That was the case for pole-sitter Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, who pitted under green with just over 40 laps left, then found themselves out of contention when the final caution flew. It was Keselowski's brother, Brian, who touched off the race-changing event by spinning at the entrance to pit road.
"I was a lot more confident with (Logano and Keselowski) in the back," Harvick said. "I thought (Busch) would go better on the restart. I knew we had 25 laps or so but we had track position."
Harvick, strong on long runs all day, led three times for 52 laps, including the final 34.
"Clean air wasn't so much important as you got going but it was for us on restarts because our car was very edgy getting going," Harvick said.
It was Harvick's 36th career Nationwide win and his 56th in NASCAR's top three series. It was his second win in four Nationwide races this season.
Harvick, driving his own Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, beat Reed Sorenson by 0.2 seconds. Busch, who beat Harvick in the Trucks race on Friday night, was third.
"We thought our car was good after about 15 or 20 laps," Harvick said. "We did some things after the truck race that we felt were right for today. We stuck to our plans and when we do it usually works out. It did today."
Justin Allgaier, coming off a victory two weeks ago at Bristol, was fourth, and Brad Keselowski rallied to finish fifth.
Harvick was one of five Sprint Cup regulars in the lineup for the first stand-alone Nationwide race of the season. Among the others were Busch (third), Brad Keselowski (fifth), Carl Edwards (sixth), Logano (eighth) and Paul Menard (11th).
Edwards rallied after his crew bolted an aluminum patch over a baseball-size hole in the grill of his car midway through the race. The damage was caused during a pitstop earlier in the race.
There were eight cautions for 43 laps including a five-car pileup that brought out a 14-minute red flag. Two cautions involved rookie James Buescher and veteran Jason Leffler. They tangled in turn two early in the race and Leffler was ejected later after crashing Buescher into the wall on the front straightaway.
Edwards leads the season standings, 16 points ahead of Keselowski.