At age 33, Kevin Harvick won his 33rd Nationwide Series race in the #33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet - but the number that really mattered to Harvick at Bristol Motor Speedway was one.
A former series champion, Harvick won for the first time in a Nationwide car he owns when he took the chequered flag in Saturday's Scott's Turf Builder 300 at the 0.533-mile high-banked short track, beating Carl Edwards to the finish line by 0.798 seconds.
"Finally, we got this out of the way," Harvick said. "The alternator went out today - it was kind of hot in there - but everybody did a great job.
"There's been a tremendous amount of pressure that I've put on myself - probably more pressure than any of the guys want to see at the shop over the last year, but it's been well worth the reward today. And I guess it's kind of fitting that it comes on what's been my most successful track in the Nationwide Series here at Bristol, and I'm just glad it all finally came together."
Harvick got the break he needed when disaster struck Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 156 laps, on the on the final pit stop for the lead cars on lap 254. A tyre taken off the right rear wheel of the #18 Toyota bounced off the inside wall and rolled back out onto pit road. Busch left his pit box before his crew could retrieve the tyre and drew a penalty that dropped him from first to 16th for a restart on lap 259.
With a frenzied charge through the field, Busch moved up to sixth by the end of the race but ran out of time.
Harvick also made the right move on his final stop, when his crew filled the fuel cell of the #33 Chevy only with enough gas to finish the race comfortably, thereby making the car lighter for the final restart.
"The most important thing was leaving the fuel out of the car," Harvick said. "That really let us keep going on the restart."
With his runner-up finish, 2007 series champion Edwards stayed at the top of the Nationwide standings, 114 points ahead of second-place Harvick (who will not run the full schedule) and 124 ahead of third-place Busch.
Clint Bowyer ran third on Saturday, followed by Matt Kenseth (subbing for sore-ribbed Greg Biffle) and rookie Justin Allgaier.
The race featured a record 16 lead changes, breaking the mark of 10 set in 2005.
Hoping to make his first Nationwide Series start, Pennsylvania driver Benny Gordon qualified 26th for Saturday's race, but NASCAR found irregularities in the composition of the fuel in his #72 Ford and disallowed the time. That promoted Dennis Setzer, who thought he had missed the race, into the starting field. Setzer was fastest among the original group of seven non-qualifiers and finished 38th.by Reid Spencer/Sporting News