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Kevin Harvick calls this Talladega win 'Karmic,' and it was certainly dramatic too

  Kevin Harvick whoops it up in Talladega victory lane (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Winning this one was oh, so sweet for Kevin Harvick and team owner Richard Childress Sunday...because only a few days earlier they'd just been given the brush-off by sponsor Shell in announcing a move next season to the rival Roger Penske/Kurt Busch team.
   "It's great karma, with everything that has happened this week with the sponsor," Harvick said after a photo-finish win in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega SuperSpeedway. "I think it's kind of funny in itself.
    "It was really good for our team – we've been really close to winning races...but the karma thing is the best part."
   The victory broke a long winless streak for Harvick, whose last tour win was the 2007 Daytona 500, also in a photo finish, over Mark Martin.
   The win was also Childress' first here since the fall of 2000 -- which was the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s last tour win.
   This time Harvick's margin was even closer than at Daytona in 2007: "I was waiting on him to make a move. He made the move going about halfway through the trioval, and I made mine the other way.
     "He made the move to the outside (to block), and I jerked left.
     "If you're leading the race, you don't want to be the one that makes that call.
      "He made the move to the right, and I just went left.
    "It worked out perfect. You couldn't have scripted it any better."
    The race, 3-1/2 hours long, in front of a large but not sellout crowd, was a wild one, unusually wild, but surprisingly clean too....well, except for whatever is going on between teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who were at each other's throats again.


  Jamie McMurray (1) and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya (42) appear to have things under control on a late restart, in front of a nice crowd at Talladega SuperSpeedway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  McMurray, the Daytona 500 winner a few weeks ago in another overtime thriller, and also the winner here last fall, knew he had one shot to outguess Harvick with the block.
   Carl Edwards last spring here tried to block high and then low, and that led to a major incident.
    "I knew Kevin was going to wait till coming off turn four....and I watched the race last year," McMurray said.
    "When I looked in my mirror, I'm like 'I think he's going to go high,' so you guard high.
     "And when he swerved left, it just disturbed the air on my car so bad, it felt like it was going to spin me out.
     "As soon as he gets in there, I knew he was there; all I was concerned with was just trying to get to his door.
      "I knew Kevin was going to get in front of me; I was just hoping I would get that run back on the outside."
    Indeed usually that comeback run works.
   "You really only get one direction to go," in the final block, McMurray said. "I thought that I was low enough that he couldn't get underneath me. So I was more guarding the outside."
   Team owner Felix Sabates complained that Harvick, in making the pass, went below the out-of-bounds yellow line: "He was below the yellow line. They either have the rule or they don't have it.
    "He was definitely below the yellow line. That's just pure BS, it's just BS. He was below the yellow line when he passed. He passed Jamie under the yellow line and the rule is very specific. You pass below the yellow line, you're the last car on the lead lap."
   That's a reference to a call NASCAR made in a similar situation here two years ago, when Regan Smith, forced below the yellow line while trying to pass Tony Stewart in the final yards, was penalized after the race to the rear of the lead pack, even though he was the first man to reach the finish line.
    To that, Harvick responded with a curt Bronx Cheer.
    It was also the first superspeedway race with the new flat-blade rear spoiler and restrictor plate package, which had been a major question in the garage.
    "There was a lot of pushing and shoving -- two and three-wide," Harvick said. "The spoiler made it so you could pull back up on somebody if you made a mistake. You just didn't want to be the very last car (in the draft).
    "It was very interesting day, and it played out perfect for us."
      Part of the reason, apparently, for switching from the wing, used the last three years, to the old flat spoiler was hopefully to change the aerodynamics of what happens when a car gets backwards here at high speed. Jeff Burton hit 199.5 mph in Friday practice, and that's fast, on the edge in NASCAR's eyes. And there was some question about NASCAR possibly changing the rules before the race to slow the cars. But NASCAR didn't change anything, and the rules package proved perfect.
   And how did the flat spoiler work in making things safer?
   When Denny Hamlin spun, it appeared to help keep his car under better control.
    The new spoiler-plate package drew praise from McMurray too: "It was actually a lot of fun out there.
    "We had such a good rules package with the wing here (last year), and you didn't know how this was going to work.
     "They did a really good job of picking the 'blade' and made the cars racy."
    Perhaps ironically Harvick and McMurray both spent most of the race cruising around in the back of the pack, trying to avoid any heavy crashing.
   "We raced really smart," McMurray said. "We rode around toward the rear; Kevin and I actually rode together all day back there.
    "I think everybody, in the back of their heads, thought that with the wing and the plate there were a lot of unknowns -- and that we were going to suck up too quick (in the draft). The cars did -- they sucked up really well.
    "Then we saw Ryan Newman get wrecked in practice...and that was practice.
     "I really thought in the first 40 laps we would have a wreck like that. But everybody did a really good job.
    "When it gets down to the end, you've got to get up there with 35 or 40 laps to go...because if you wait too long the race is over because they're all running single-file (which the field did late, awaiting the final few miles).
     "If you're in the top five or six, you have a shot."


  Kevin Harvick (29) waiting to make his move on Jamie McMurray (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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