RICHMOND, Va. – Kevin Harvick made a masterful move during the final restart Saturday night at Richmond Int’l Raceway, a move that paved the way to victory during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400.
It wasn’t the way Harvick, or anyone else for that matter, expected the race to end. Harvick was running second to Juan Pablo Montoya with six laps left when Brian Vickers found the wall in turns three and four to bring out the final caution flag of the evening.
With fresh tires at a premium all night, the majority of the lead lap cars ducked on to pit road during the final caution period. Only three – Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray and A.J. Allmendinger – opted not to pit for fresh tires.
Burton led the field to the restart with Montoya restarting sixth and Harvick seventh. Trapped on the outside, Montoya could only watch as Harvick dove to the inside entering turn one, emerging from turn two right behind race leader Burton in second.
Harvick made the winning move at the entrance of turn three, overtaking Burton to take the lead as they raced out of turn four towards the white flag. Harvick promptly drove away from the last-lap mayhem going on behind him, beating Clint Bowyer to the finish line by .343 of a second.
“There ain’t no lame in that game is there?” Harvick asked in victory lane, referring to the fact that he won’t be returning to Richard Childress Racing following the 2013 season. “Sprint Cup racing is something you’ve got to take chances. The guys that stayed out took chances, we had to take chances.
“We’ve been beat by tires a couple times this year and I thought it was the right thing to do. Gil (Martin, crew chief) made the right call and it all worked out,” Harvick said.