Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

It's Harvick by a nose!

  Now that's a finish! Kevin Harvick (inside) nipping Jamie McMurray at the finish line (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   On a bright, sunny, record-breaking day for lead changes and leaders, it was Kevin Harvick by a nose at the line over Jamie McMurray in one of the season's most intense races, which went into triple-overtime: three Green-White-Checker runs that stretched the scheduled 500-mile event to 532 miles, the longest Talladega race ever.
   It was also the most competitive NASCAR race, with an amazing 88 official lead changes at the start-finish line, among a record 29 drivers, in front of crowd pegged by NASCAR at 123,500.
   NASCAR's Robin Pemberton hit the rules change – restrictor plate and rear spoiler – on the nose, despite Friday worries from teams, and drivers responded with another vigorously aggressive event, continuing a string of very action-packed races on the stock car trail.
   Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch may have had the strongest cars, but if so, only by a bit. No one could hold the point every long.
   But just about any two-car combination could make a quick breakaway to the lead at any time.
   "Everything just played out perfect for us. We had a plan to ride in the back until 50 to go," Harvick said, after his first tour win since the Daytona 500 in 2007 – a long dry spell that just cost him sponsor Shell, going to rival Roger Penske and Kurt Busch. Here is video of the finish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Cq-fRlfiT0
   That win, thus, was a bit sweeter for Harvick, now second in the Sprint Cup standings, just 26 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson, who crashed out late.
   The race was filled with tense action most of the way, except for two brief stretches. And whether the drivers were just that good or just that lucky, there weren't that many major incidents.
   There was an early 'competition yellow' 25 laps in, to check for tire wear, because of rain that washed the track green.
   Then Denny Hamlin lost it but made a good save, without hitting anyone or anything.
   Kyle Busch triggered the first significant accident, a 10-car affair midway through the 3-1/2-hour event, when he tagged Johnny Sauter in heavy traffic. That took Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Michael Waltrip out of contention.
  But the key incident came in the final miles, when David Reutimann, deep in the pack, tagged Bobby Labonte, who spun with 13 laps to go, bringing out the yellow.
    During that caution Burton, the leader, pitted, and so did a dozen others, perhaps surprisingly since there would only be about 25 miles to go. That put teammates McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya at the head of the pack.
   A few miles later Dale Earnhardt Jr. pushed Tony Stewart into the lead. But just then Burton and Jeff Gordon both crashed out when Jimmie Johnson suddenly slowed slightly, forcing Burton and Gordon to slow a bit too, and Mike Bliss tagged Burton in the rear.
   So for the first Green-White-Checkered two-lap shootout, it was McMurray leading Stewart, Greg Biffle, Earnhardt, Montoya, David Ragan and Harvick.
   However moments later Joey Logano tagged Ryan Newman, triggering another crash, which led to a second GWC. Newman was hot: "I just got hit from behind. He kept hitting me. I'd have done the same thing. It was going to happen. Just who? It's just Talladega racing. No, it's just Talladega."
   On the second GWC, McMurray and Biffle were side by side for the restart, with Montoya, Stewart, Harvick, Earnhardt and Denny Hamlin right behind.
   At that point, though, fuel mileage had become an issue. And when Biffle was slow to get up to speed, Johnson and others right behind him anticipated he might be running dry. Johnson made a sharp move to get around Biffle, but Biffle was by then up to speed, and Johnson clipped Biffle and sent both into the wall.
   That set up a third GWC – a record too. McMurray and Harvick hooked up in a tight two-some and quickly jumped out to a big lead at the green, and they sprinted away from the rest. In the trioval the final lap McMurray said he anticipated Harvick going high, but Harvick suddenly swerved low, and Harvick won the drag race to the finish line, by only some three feet, which NASCAR also logged as a record – the tightest finish at this 2.66-mile track since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993.
   [Note: You can use Twitter as an easy headline service for mikemulhern.net stories, with our instant Tweets to your mobile as soon as our newest NASCAR story is filed. And mikemulhern.net is mobile-friendly for viewing. You can also use the orange RSS feed button as a quickie headline service on your laptop or home computer for mikemulhern.net stories, by creating a Live Bookmark RSS feed on your web browser's toolbar. Or you can create a Google Alert for mikemulhernnet.]


The finishing order of Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega




  The action was dicey all day, and not everyone made it to the finish....which is one reason the top three finishers, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya all played it conservatively until the final miles (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com