28 April 2013
2013 Richmond NASCAR: Harvick surges through to steal win
"Something broke in the engine," signed Keselowski of a fruitless hard night's work." I thought I had a tyre going down again and didn't ... Then whatever happened with the engine. It was just one of those deals and a long day but we kept finding a way to get back through all the adversity but there was nothing we could do about the last one.
"We got hit by a lot of freak deals tonight," he added. "I felt like we would have a top ten day at the worst. We were on the same strategy as Kevin and he won the race - it would have been a great battle!"
It looked like Montoya had been given the all-clear to bring the #42 to victory lane for the first time in 94 races; and then disaster struck as Brian Vickers went into the wall in turn 3 with six laps remaining. That would force the race into overtime - a two-lap green-white-chequered sprint to the finish - and moreover meant that everyone needed to make a call about whether to pit beforehand for fresh tyres.
Many considered it a no-brainer. They'd be sitting ducks on tyres with more than 60 laps on them to anyone on a fresh set, so a majority of cars streamed in to pit lane leaving only those with little to lose and possibly everything to gain to stay out: Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger led the field round for climactic shootout, with Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya ready to pounce on fresh rubber.
Instead, all six got punk'd by the driver in seventh place. Kevin Harvick got an astonishing run and stormed past all of them, even his RCR team mate Burton, to take the lead by the time the leaders came round and took the white flag.
"That was a heck of a first lap of the restart," grinned the race winner. "I thought that the outside line might have the advantage because it had a couple of guys with new tyres in the second row, and lined up on the outside.
"It all worked out, and here we are," he added. "I just want to thank everybody. It's been a tough start to the season [even though] our cars have been really fast ... It was a great night."
He'd certainly laid to rest speculation that he and the team would be lame ducks in 2013, after the announcement that he is leaving RCR for Tony Stewart's team at the end of the year. "A lot of people thought we might lay down this year," said Harvick as he received a hug in victory lane from team owner Richard Childress. "There ain't no way with that game, is there?"
Everyone else was left scrambling for the leftover scraps, with Bowyer emerging in second place ahead of Joey Logano and the near-winner Montoya having to settle for a disappointing fourth place in the end ahead of Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards.
"We had a good car, we just didn't have a great car," admitted the runner-up, Clint Bowyer. "It really got wild there at the end, I was just lucky enough to be on the bottom. They started making holes up there in front of me and the seas parted, and I just followed suit behind Harvick."
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