Kevin Harvick was on untouchable form at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, leading 248 of the 250 laps of Saturday's Kroger 250 ahead of his Richard Childress Racing team mate Ty Dillon.
"It's been a long time since we've dominated like that and actually won," said Harvick. "Not a bad way to make our first truck start for RCR," he added dryly over the team radio as he celebrated one of the most emphatic wins seen in NASCAR
at any level in recent times.
Harvick operated his own Truck team until the end of last season before selling the assets and opting for an occasional series outing with RCR instead. Having sat out the series opener at Daytona, this was Harvick's first return to the Trucks fray since winding up Kevin Harvick, Inc.
In the 250-lap race, polesitter Harvick was only out of the lead for two laps - when he courteously eased up to give his Richard Childress Racing team mate Ty Dillon a couple of laps in front in the opening phase in order to give the young rookie the bonus point for leading.
After that, Harvick was quick to resume the lead and then held it for the rest of the day, setting a new series record fo the number of laps led in a single race (beating Mike Skinner's previous Martinsville record of 246 in 2007.) Harvick was so dominant that at one point he radioed to his spotter to let Ty Dillon know that he was only going at 80 per cent of his capacity and not to bother trying to hard to keep up.
Dillon dutifully followed behind in second, adroitly balancing the demands of not doing anything to wreck Harvick's race ahead while also defending his own position from the likes of James Buescher, Justin Lofton, Timothy Peters and Nelson Piquet Jr. who comprised the rest of the top six by the end of the race. Dillon was helped by Harvick ceding the better inside line to the rookie for the restarts to help him out, knowing full well that the teenager was not going to be a threat to him for the lead.
There were seven cautions for incidents during the race, starting with a spin on the front stretch for Ron Hornaday Jr. on lap 22; a cut tyre putting Joey Coulter into the wall out of turn 3 on lap 76; Dusty Davis stalling on the front stretch on lap 112; David Starr spinning in turn 2 on lap 159; and an accident for David Reutimann on lap 228.
The biggest accident of the afternoon came on lap 93 when a multi-car accident broke out in turn 4, after JR Fitzpatrick pinched John Wes Townley (back for the first time after a DUI suspension) onto the kerb resulting in a spin that collected up multiple cars behind them, with Jeff Agnew coming off the worst.
The final caution came on lap 236, just 14 laps shy of the chequered flag, and involved Max Gresham, Miguel Paludo and John King getting caught up when the field compressed through turn 4 after the penultimate restart.