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Nationwide: Harvick dominates in Texas

Kevin Harvick made it look very easy, as he led 127 of the 200 laps of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Kevin Harvick won Saturday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge under the floodlights at the 1.5-mile Tesas Motor Speedway, having led for 127 of the 200 laps of the race.

Polesitter Kyle Busch had been his only real competition over the first half of the race, but once the track cooled in the night air the edge that the #33 held over the #54 grew increasingly large, leaving the winner of the event in little doubt as the chequered flag loomed.

"I didn't want to make a big mistake and give up a big chunk of time there," said Harvick of the final run to the finish. ""But it all timed itself out pretty good, and everything worked out."

Busch had led the field to the green flag at the start of the final Nationwide Series night race of the 2012 season and immediately pulled away at the front, with Elliott Sadler slipping into second spot ahead of Harvick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who were duelling over third place.

A caution on lap 13 came out for Hal Martin sliding up into the wall at turn 2. The leaders stayed out, although Stenhouse was controversially cited for not maintaining a consistent speed when he pulled a 'fake out' toward pit lane. He was docked a position before the restart on lap 18, which immediately saw Busch check out again at the front, only for his tyres to start to go off after 30 laps which allowed Kevin Harvick to start to reel him back in again.

Austin Dillon had come in for a pit stop just a lap before the second caution of the day came out on lap 45 for debris. That allowed the rest of the field to come in for a service under yellow, forcing Dillon to stay out and take the wavearound to the back of the lead lap in 26th place. There were no other position changes at the front, and so Busch led the restart on lap 49 ahead of Harvick, Joey Logano and Sadler, with Cole Whitt ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The handling of the #54 was starting to get uncomfortably loose for Busch on this latest set of scuffed tyres in the cooling evening conditions, and on lap 65 he was passed on the high side by Kevin Harvick. Busch was subsequently also passed by Sadler and Whitt and was doubtless happy to see the yellow flags come out on lap 83 for a brush with the wall in turn 2 for Jason Bowles, a caution that allowed the leaders to come back to pit road and Busch's team to attempt some set-up changes to counteract the drop in the #54's performance.

Harvick led Busch at the restart on lap 90. Busch immediately made a play around the outside of Harvick for the lead, but he bottomed out over the bumpy Texas Motor Speedway surface and came dangerously close to sailing up into the wall. That released Harvick at the front, with Sadler in close pursuit in second as Busch had to go three-wide with Whitt and Logano to salvage third.

A lengthy green flag period allowed the true running order to evolve: Sadler's car started to fade and he dropped down to fourth behind Busch, while Logano moved up to second behind Harvick. As the race approached two-thirds race distance, Danica Patrick was having a good run and was up to sixth, just behind Sam Hornish Jr. who'd had a calamitous Keystone Kops pit stop under the previous caution to drop to 23rd spot but who was now right back into contention. Brian Scott was in seventh ahead of Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse, who was struggling with an ill-handling #6 and had dropped to the back of the top ten along with Cole Whitt.




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Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick pits the #33 OneMain Financial Chevrolet during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #33 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #33 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Brian Scott, driver of the #2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet, leads Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, drive driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinios.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet, wins the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Cars race after a restart lead by Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet (L), Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Cartwheel by Target Chevrolet (R) during the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 AutoTrader.com Ford, and Morgan Shepherd, driver of the #33 Little Joe`s Autos Chevrolet, crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, and Erik Jones, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, lead the field during a restart of the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on July 11, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series car (Photo Credit: NASCAR)

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