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Nationwide: Harvick dominates in Texas

After 42 green flag laps, the tyre wear was starting to show and Cole Whitt and Danica Patrick were the first to decide on earlier pit stops than planned rather than risk a blow-out. Denny Hamlin was also in early, while the other leaders were keen to stay out in order to make this a one-stop race. Finally on laps 143 and 144 there was a flood of cars onto pit road, and after the sequence concluded it was Harvick and Logano back in charge and a full four seconds ahead of Kyle Busch, while Danica Patrick's early switch to fresh rubber had boosted her to fourth place ahead of Sadler and Hornish with a little over 50 laps to run.

A turn 3 spin for Joey Gase as he was running side-by-side with John Blankenship on lap 155 brought out the fourth caution of the night, and the leaders were all making a quick return to pit road with an eye to making a long run to the finish. Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgaier and Austin Dillon all stayed out while Ryan Newman pitted for fuel only putting him back out in fifth and demoting Harvick to sixth place ahead of Logano, Busch and Scott, with Sadler rounding out the top ten.

The race restarted on lap 159 and within three laps Harvick was blasting past Hamlin for the lead, with Kyle Busch in hot pursuit. It took the rest of the field another ten laps to follow them through, but by lap 170 Hamlin was back down to sixth having now also been passed by Hornish, Logano and Stenhouse.

A fifth caution on lap 176 for Joe Nemechek brushing the wall in turns 3 and 4 signalled that it was time for the other shoe to drop on the pit stop front: now it was the turn of Hamlin, Blaney and the others that had stayed out under the previous caution to come in for fuel and tyres, giving them the upper hand in terms of grip over the leaders but at the cost of track position with 19 laps to go at the restart.

Harvick and Buch went side-by-side for the lead, but it was soon clear that Harvick had the upper hand and he soon disappeared into the distance. Ryan Blaney emerged as the chief challenger among those who had just taken on fresh tyres and he breezed passed Busch with seven laps to go, but by then Harvick had already achieved a safe margin and he was able to finish 1.628s up the road from the 18-year-old at the chequered flag with Busch cruising home behind them in third place.

Busch had some glowing words of praise for Blaney afterwards: ""He's really showing what he can do," he said. "He's done a good job of doing it and being clean while doing it. He's got a lot respect for everybody out there, and he can finish top two, three, four, five week in, week out, and he does it without making a big deal out of it."

"I've been a fan of Kyle for a very long time and he's definitely one of the people that I look up to," responded Blaney, for whom second is a Nationwide Series career best. "As a rookie and a young kid when you see your idols congratulate you, that's pretty cool!"

Two of the other drivers on fresh tyres ended up having a fierce spat between themselves: Denny Hamlin was running low on the apron but still felt he was being aggressively crowded by Austin Dillon, and finally he'd had enough and let the #3 car know it with a hefty bump retaliation at the end of the race. That led to a pit lane confrontation between Hamlin and the ever-feisty Richard Childress Racing pit crew supporting the team owner's grandson: Hamlin wasn't cowed, and certainly wasn't backing down in his criticism of the youngster's immaturity, as he saw it.

With the matter of the race win settled, the focus of attention at the end of the race turned to two cars who were far apart on the track, but locked together in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler, who were having starkly contrasting fortunes in the final laps of the night.

Stenhouse had been battling his car all evening, but finally with his last set of tyres and a boatload of drastic set-up changes he found enough in the #6 to push and slide his way up into fourth place.




Related Pictures

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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)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Serta/Menards Chevrolet SS, finished ninth and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Great Stuff Chevrolet SS, finished 28th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished fifth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finished twelfth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and his team celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Doublemint Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 STP Ford, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ENEOS Chevrolet, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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