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Harvick dominates Nationwide night race at Richmond

Kevin Harvick claimed victory after leading for most of Friday night's Nationwide Series race, thwarting team mate Chase Elliott's hopes of a hat-trick.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Nationwide Series championship standings

Kevin Harvick claimed victory on Friday night - or more accurately, early on Saturday morning - after leading for all but one of the last 203 laps of the rain-delayed ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway. It was the 38-year-old's 41st victory in 307 NASCAR Nationwide Series races, but only his first of 2014.

"We got a little off on one set of tires with our adjustments but kept it up there," said Harvick in victory lane. "Thanks to Hendrick engines, JR Motorsports, [crew chief] Ernie Cope and all of these guys. It's been awesome all year."

It had been Joe Gibbs Racing's Brian Scott who led at the start, having won pole position in the afternoon qualifying session that was completed just before the rain storms arrived that forced the cancellation of the corresponding qualifying session for the Sprint Cup Series. The rain delayed the start of the Nationwide event for over three hours until the rain had stopped and the Air Titans successfully won the day and finished drying the three-quarter mile track in time to start the race shortly after 10pm local time.

There was an immediate yellow for Kevin LePage getting bumped into the inside wall while racing a pack of cars through turn 2 on lap 4, but once the race resumed it ran through to the planned competition caution on lap 42 without further incident, Scott maintained the lead through that period but Harvick has been inexorably climbing up from his ninth place grid position and was close to passing Scott when the scheduled yellow materialised; once the race returned to green flag conditions, Harvick quickly sealed the deal and took the lead on lap 48 with his JR Motorsports team mate Chase Elliott following him through and taking up second spot as his wingman.

That was effectively it as far as the battle for the race lead went: Harvick would only be away from the front for a single lap, during green flag pit stops on lap 132, but otherwise had the race sown up. For the most of that time Elliott remained glued to him in second place but hopes that the 18-year-old rookie would be able to extend his recent winning streak to a hat-trick were confounded by Harvick's total domination. The third member of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Nationwide team, Regan Smith, was also rarely away from the leading pack although he had drifted back to eighth place by the end of the 250-lap race.

The race ran for 104 uninterrupted laps following the competition caution during which time Harvick's lead over the rest of the field stretched to eight seconds before a yellow for debris in turn 4 on lap 151; after that there were two further cautions, the first on lap 189 for a turn 4 crash involving Dylan Kwasniewski following contact with Ryan Reed; and the second at the restart on lap 197 when a sluggish Elliott Sadler spun out after contact with Smith in turn 1.

None of this affected Harvick's grip on the race, and just under two hours after the race had finally been able to get underway it was time for the chequered flag to fall shortly after midnight and for JR Motorsport to claim its fourth win of the season and an emphatic one-two for Harvick and Elliott ahead of Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Brian Scott, with Sadler rallying from that restart misfortune to hold on to sixth place ahead of Chris Buescher.

"Honestly, Chase is a good kid and he knows how to drive a race car," Harvick said after the race. "He's as good as they get and a lot of fun to be around.

"He pushes us to be better by trying different things [from what we've been used to doing] through the years. The groove getting into Turn 1 - I had to change my groove tonight and change my car because it was different."

"I've just got to get up on the wheel a little harder the next time we're in that situation," said Elliott. "I think he just out-drove me a little bit. Honestly, I felt like some of it was me. I just let him get a little too far out in front of me there on the first few laps."

As the highest-placed Nationwide Series regular in the race, Elliott extends his lead in the championship standings to 19 points over Smith who saw his own margin over Sadler cut to just four points.

Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Nationwide Series championship standings



Related Pictures

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Air-Titan 2.0 track dryers run during a rain delay for the NASCAR Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Brian Scott, driver of the #2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet, and Dylan Kwasniewski, driver of the #31 Rockstar Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Tide Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway in the early morning hours of April 26, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Tide Chevrolet, celebrates with team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway in the early morning hours of April 26, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet SS, finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 29, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, finishes in sixth place Sunday, March 29, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Crew members work on the #25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, driven by Chase Elliott, after being involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for third position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Truex, Jr. is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (left) congratulates his son Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. This will mark Chase Elliott`s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, answers questions from media during a press conference before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. Vickers was forced to withdraw from competition due to blood clots. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 FVP/Menards Chevrolet SS finishes in fourth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS finishes in third place and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS finishes in second place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 taxslayer.com Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2015 in Fontana, California.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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