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Harvick swoops to conquer at Fontana

The chequered flag came out, and the race was won. Only - it wasn't Johnson who crossed the finish line first. Instead, a penultimate-lap near-contact with the wall for Kyle Busch had given Kevin Harvick an opening to floor it and claim second - and somehow the move had taken on a life and momentum all its own, putting him right onto the back bumper of Johnson. He gave the lightest, tenderest of rubs to the #48 which made Johnson just that little bit too fast for his liking into the final turns 3 and 4 - and Harvick blasted past on the outside line to the chequered flag. It left an awful lot of puzzled faces who hadn't seen that one coming: less "whodunnit" than "howthehellhedunnit".

"I was really nervous about that last call - staying out - but it all worked out in our favor, and we were able to make up ground," said Harvick. "The more laps we got on our tires, the better we were."

Johnson lamented not being able to pass Busch a lap or two sooner, which would have made all the difference. "[Then] I would have had enough of a margin to hold off the #29, but he was rolling on the top," Johnson said. "I did all I could. I was dead sideways. I think I hit the fence one time off of 2."

But the most disappointed man at the end had to be Kyle Busch, who had led a whopping 151 of the 200 laps and lost to a driver who had led only one lap the entire day. "Just real, real unfortunate and frustrating and disappointing all in one that we weren't able to seal the deal today," said Busch afterwards. "You ask a little bit more from your race car at the last moments, [but] it doesn't have anything left to give. You're essentially a sitting duck waiting for those guys to drive by you. Couldn't get any more out of the car. That was it."

Harvick's win makes him the fifth winner of a 2011 Sprint Cup so far (alongside Trevor Bayne, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch) and restores him into the top 12 "Chase" positions, nicely getting his championship back on track as well after a rather subdued start to the 2011 season after ending 2010 so strongly and narrowly missing out on beating Johnson to the title.

It really just proved how much you have to watch the quiet ones. They're always the most dangerous when it comes down to the wire ...

Race results

1. #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 2h 40m 08s (47/1 pts)
2. #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet + 0.144 (43/1 pts)
3. #18 Kyle Busch Toyota + 1.158 (43/2 pts)
4. #17 Matt Kenseth Ford + 1.358 (40/0 pts)
5. #39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet + 2.066 (40/1 pts)
6. #99 Carl Edwards Ford + 3.084 (38/0 pts)
7. #33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet + 3.774 (38/1 pts)
8. #83 Brian Vickers Toyota + 4.009 (36/0 pts)
9. #4 Kasey Kahne Toyota + 4.097 (35/0 pts)
10. #42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet + 5.284 (35/1 pts)
11. #16 Greg Biffle Ford + 5.397 (33/0 pts)
12. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet + 5.408 (32/0 pts)
13. #14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet + 5.586 (32/1 pts)
14. #43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford + 6.245 (30/0 pts)
15. #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet + 6.610 (29/0 pts)
16. #27 Paul Menard Chevrolet + 7.117 (28/0 pts)
17. #22 Kurt Busch Dodge + 7.339 (27/0 pts)
18. #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet + 7.472 (26/0 pts)
19. #00 David Reutimann Toyota + 7.639 (25/0 pts)
20. #5 Mark Martin Chevrolet + 7.903 (24/0 pts)
21. #56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota + 7.966 (24/1 pts)
22. #6 David Ragan Ford + 8.153 (22/0 pts)
23. #1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet + 10.654 (21/0 pts)
24. #09 Landon Cassill Chevrolet + 13.485 (0pts)
25. #20 Joey Logano Toyota + 33.172 (19/0 pts)
26. #2 Brad Keselowski Dodge + 1 Lap (18/0 pts)
27. #78 Regan Smith Chevrolet + 1 Lap (17/0 pts)
28. #9 Marcos Ambrose Ford + 2 Laps (16/0 pts)
29. #13 Casey Mears Toyota + 2 Laps (15/0 pts)
30. #21 Trevor Bayne Ford + 2 Laps (0pts)
31. #34 David Gilliland Ford + 2 Laps (13/0 pts)
32. #71 Andy Lally * Chevrolet + 2 Laps (12/0 pts)
33. #32 Ken Schrader Ford + 3 Laps (11/0 pts)
34. #7 Robby Gordon Dodge + 3 Laps (10/0 pts)
35. #38 Travis Kvapil Ford + 4 Laps (0pts)
36. #37 Tony Raines Ford + 10 Laps (8/0 pts)
37. #36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet + 12 Laps Out of Race (7/0 pts)
38. #47 Bobby Labonte Toyota + 18 Laps Running (6/0 pts)
39. #11 Denny Hamlin Toyota + 95 Laps Out of Race (6/1 pts)
40. #60 Todd Bodine Toyota + 150 Laps In Pit (0pts)
41. #46 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet + 153 Laps Out of Race (4/1 pts)
42. #87 Joe Nemechek Toyota + 161 Laps In Pit (0pts)
43. #66 Michael McDowell Toyota + 168 Laps Out of Race (1/0 pts)





Related Pictures

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Kevin Harvick - Richard Childress Racing   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, lead a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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David Gilliland, driver of the #38 Love`s Travel Stops Ford, poses with Ms. Coors Light, Rachel Rupert, after winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS, qualified fifth Friday, July 4, 2014 for Saturday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Johnson is 2nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Bobby Labonte, driver of the #33 Thunder Coal Chevrolet SS, qualified fourth Friday, July 4, 2014 for Saturday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland smiles in his garage on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. after turning the fastest lap in final practice for Sunday`s Daytona 500. Gilliland turned a lap of 200.138 mph. [Picture Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR]
David Gilliland at Daytona on February 17, 2014 (Photo Credit:  NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Kroger/P&G Chevrolet, lead the field on a late restart during the NASCAR Nationwide Series John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Kroger/P&G Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Kroger/P&G Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Kroger/P&G Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, left, talks with Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, leads a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Series UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway on June 26, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Series UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway on June 26, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway on June 26, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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