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2013 Richmond NASCAR: Harvick surges through to steal win

A flying restart for Kevin Harvick in a green-white-chequered climax to Saturday night's race allowed him to steal the win from Juan Pablo Montoya, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton.
The three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway short track has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for race title sponsors Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing, and in particular for Kyle Busch who has won the spring race here for the last four years in a row. But this year it was the Chevrolet-powered Richard Childress Racing #29 that surprised them all and surged to a late race-winning lead in the confusion of a green-white-chequered finish.

It had started off with JGR looking in top form, with Matt Kenseth effortlessly converting pole position ahead of his team mate Brian Vickers to an easy early lead for the first 36 laps of the 400-lap race. Clint Bowyer - another Toyota entry in the Michael Waltrip Racing #15 - finally reeled Kenseth back in and took the lead, but Kenseth promptly took it back in the race off pit road under the first caution of the night on lap 42 for Josh Wise going for a slide in turn 3 after contact with Landon Cassill.

After the restart, Kenseth led the entirety of the next 69-lap green flag stint, pushing his margin over the rest of the field to over two seconds despite reporting some handling issues. The #20 was also sporting an errant piece of metal from the rear right side skirt that NASCAR required the team to attend to during the next round of pit stops, which took place under a caution on lap 111 after Marcos Ambrose's engine oil pressure died and left him coasting back to pit road.

“This is so disappointing for us. it appears we've blown an engine," said the Australian. "The racing gods aren't on our side this year. We were fast tonight and ran top ten. We are proud of that and will have to regroup and go to Talladega."

Full race results | Kevin Harvick interview | Championship standings

That did cost Kenseth a few extra seconds in his pit stall, and so the race lead was handed back to Clint Bowyer - who liked the view up front so much that he stayed there for the next 107 laps. That included two more cautions, one for fluid on the backstretch on lap 146 and another for Brad Keselowski getting a puncture on lap 158 and ending up in the wall at turn 1, inflicting damage on the #2 that took much of the rest of the race to overcome and get back into contention. "It was a freak deal where something in the wheel broke and let all the air out of the tyres," explained Keselowski.

Once past mid-distance, Bowyer's pace started to drop off and Matt Kenseth reclaimed the lead again on lap 219. He was in front when Greg Biffle went for a spin through the infield grass on lap 232 after an evening spent battling with a broken shock absorber. Kenseth retained the lead by winning the race off pit road ahead of both Busch brothers, Kurt just ahead of younger sibling Kyle and then Jimmie Johnson in fourth ahead of Bowyer.

Kenseth continued to lead for another 14 laps at the restart but the bloom was now off the #20 and when his JGR team mate Kyle Busch took over at the front it was the last that Kenseth would see of the lead all evening, although he would never stray disastrously too far from the front. Kyle's own stint at the top lasted exactly 40 laps until Travis Kvapil brought out the sixth caution of the night on lap 293 by hitting the wall in turn 3; Kyle was then narrowly beaten off pit road by his brother with Carl Edwards also looking spritely in third place.

Kurt Busch led at the green flag and weathered a second restart after a second Kvapil-sparked caution on lap 309 as the damaged #93 leaked fluid onto the track as it limed into retirement. The timing of this new caution meant strategy came into play, with several cars including those of Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson opting to pit.




Related Pictures

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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Bell Helicopter Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 27, 2013 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Dover White Chevrolet, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, spin in front of Jeff Gordon (#24) after an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 27, 2013 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Bell Helicopter Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 27, 2013 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #29 Bell Helicopter Chevrolet SS celebrates his win with a burnout at the Toyota Owners 400 Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevrolet)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished in fifth place and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Both Johnson and Harvick are in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS finished in fourth place and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished in fifth place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS finished in 2nd place and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finished in 26th place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Gordon is in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, loses control of the car after making contact with Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Will Schneekloth/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, drives with damage to his car after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS qualified for sixth position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS qualified for third position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates setting the pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, speaks at a press conference following practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, smiles at Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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