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NWS: Pit-road woes can't keep Harvick from win

Kevin Harvick takes Nationwide Series victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The best car in the Sam's Town 300 finally got to the front — just in time to win the race.

Frustrated by slow stops on pit road and a variety of different tyre strategies on the part of his competitors, Kevin Harvick passed Denny Hamlin for the lead with 25 laps left in Saturday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and pulled away to beat Hamlin by 1.361 seconds.

The victory was Harvick's first of the season and the 35th of his career, second best all-time in NASCAR's Nationwide Series.

Carl Edwards ran third, polesitter Brad Keselowski fourth and Brian Vickers fifth. Trevor Bayne, Justin Allgaier, Paul Menard, Greg Biffle and Steve Wallace completed the top ten.

Danica Patrick fell out of the race after a crash on lap 83 and finished 36th in her final NASCAR race before returning full-time to the IndyCar Series.

Fortunately for Harvick, his #33 Chevrolet had enough muscle to overcome what crew chief Ernie Cope termed the team's "worst day ever" on pit road. Harvick lost spots on every exchange of pit stops.

"The car was really fast," said Harvick, who led a race-high 82 laps, most of them early in the race before getting burned by the lacklustre work in the pits. "We've definitely got some work to do on pit road, but, fortunately, the car was fast enough.

"I get mad, and they (the crew) know how I am and what I expect of them. … But you can only gripe about it so long, and then you have to go back and drive the car."

Kyle Busch led 43 laps and was chasing Harvick and Hamlin during the final 25-lap green-flag run before contact with the wall in turn two slowed his progress and dropped him to 16th at the finish. Busch, however, had the strongest car at the midpoint of the 200-lap race and led Vickers by 3.537 seconds when NASCAR yellow-flagged the race for the fourth time on lap 104 because of a light rain shower.

That caution came 21 laps after Patrick's #7 Chevrolet slammed into the outside wall, thanks to contact from Michael McDowell's Dodge. Patrick, who pitted for fuel on lap 17 and ran as high as third during a cycle of green-flag stops, had returned to the track with fresh tyres and was closing quickly on McDowell, who was logging laps after blowing a tyre and hitting the wall on lap 16.

As Patrick ducked to the inside to make the pass, McDowell turned down and took away her line.




Related Pictures

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Kevin Harvick takes Nationwide victory at Las Vegas
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)
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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)
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)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 taxslayer.com Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win 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)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 taxslayer.com Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 taxslayer.com Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualifies for 2nd position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS celebrates with his team after winning the Pole position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch is 33rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS won the Pole position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch is 33rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS stops in his pit before victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS crosses the finish line Sunday, March 15, 2015 winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 NATIONWIDE Chevrolet, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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