8 September 2012
Nationwide: Harvick relishes return to victory lane
Stenhouse insisted that there had been no hostile action involved in the incident. "It looks like we were just racing side by side for 10 laps or 5 laps or whatever it was," he explained. "When you get up under there you get a little loose on the brakes and I guess it just got loose on him and he tried to save it from getting into us and I have to thank him for that. It was a fun night.”
Harvick lost the lead at the restart to James Buescher who alone had opted not to pit, but Buescher was already out of the way by the time Brian Scott crashed on lap 194 in turn 4 after contact with Ryan Truex, meaning that at the next restart with 50 laps to go to the finish it was now Stenhouse and Busch back at the front ahead of Harvick who lined up on the second row alongside Michael Annett, with Denny Hamlin still lurking nearby in fifth.
Busch took the lead at the restart leaving Stenhouse and Harvick to a fierce battle for second that Harvick finally won a dozen laps in, which allowed Busch to break away by over a car length in the meantime. That gap was wiped out by the seventh caution of the night on lap 227, but it was Busch's own doing when he bumped the back of backmarker Dexter Stacey and sent the #39 spinning at turn 4. In the seconds before the yellow came out, Busch had to check up to avoid the spinning car and Harvick slipped through for the lead that would carry through to the restart.
Busch explained that his ongoing brake and car handling issues had played a part: "We had a brake vibration that wouldn't allow me to get to the bottom of the corner easily," he said. "When you have that, it's tough to race guys exactly clean, and you're right on the ragged edge the whole moment.
"When I had Harvick behind us, when we were leading, if I could hit it perfect, we were going to hold him off," he continued. "If I was off just a fraction, he was right there. When I drove down into three and the lapped car chose inside, I chose inside, and I was like, 'This isn't going to be good.'"
Handed the lead of the race, Harvick didn't squander it come the restart and went on to run the final 16 laps of the race to claim the chequered flag, which was incident free and saw Harvick pull out a lead of nearly two seconds over Stenhouse before the end. Busch held on to third place in the Kyle Busch Motorsports #54, and Hamlin managed to move up to fourth place by the time the race concluded.
Despite the second place, Stenhouse was disappointed with how he'd gone during the evening: "We weren't as good as we thought we were going to be or thought we needed to be," he admitted. "We kept working on it all night and I felt like Mike and the guys did some good adjustments and got it better throughout the race but not enough to go contend for the win.
"I gave it all I had on the outside with Kevin there and that was a lot of fun racing him, last week and this week, we gave each other a lot of room and had a lot of fun doing it," he added. "We were just too loose in and too loose off and not exactly what we wanted. It is a good top-two finish though and that is three good races in a row. We just have to keep doing that."
Stenhouse's second place boosts him to within just 1pt of Elliott Sadler in the Nationwide Series standings; they both pull away from Sam Hornish Jr. whose mid-race wreck leaves him 50pts of the championship leader, and who drops down to fourth place in the championship behind Austin Dillon who finished Friday night at Richmond in six place just ahead of his brother Ty Dillon.
There was also an impressive race day for X-Games star Travis Pastrana, who had been the unexpected name on top of the Friday practice timesheets and then parleyed that into his first top ten start in the series since he started competing in NASCAR. Although he slipped back to 17th by the end of the race, he was still on the lead lap by the end and had avoided any major incidents or crashes along the way.
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