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Harvick goes back to front at Bristol.

Kevin Harvick won a wild Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway, driving from 43rd on the grid and passing the entire field on one of NASCAR's shortest circuits.

In a race where barely a dozen cars survived all 500 laps without running into an accident, Harvick scored his first win since the 2003 Brickyard 400 despite having his regular crew-chief, Todd Berrier, suspended.

Harvick, who was due to start 13th in his #29 Richard Childress Racing GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, suffered a last minute blow on Sunday morning when his RCR crew discovered a leak on his car, necessitating a change that, under NASCAR's impound rules, meant he would have to drop to the rear of the field.

Quite amazingly Harvick went from last to first inside the opening 100 laps, taking top spot for the first time on lap 92 but, in a race filled with accidents and incidents, it wasn't until lap 433 of 500 that Harvick pulled ahead for good.

The win broke a year long winless streak for team boss Childress and went a long way towards silencing those who, at first criticised the team for not attending the pre-season test at Daytona, and then scorned at their attempt to cheat during Bud Pole qualifying three weeks ago in Las Vegas.

With stand-in crew chief Scott Miller calling the shots atop the pit box, Harvick managed to avoid a car-breaking 14 caution periods and survive a potentially costly loose lug nut issue during a yellow flag pit stop with 140 laps remaining.

After making his way back into the top three as the race entered its final 80 laps, Harvick then watched gleefully as second-placed Jimmie Johnson collided with the lapped car of Michael Waltrip before easily passing a grip-less Greg Biffle for the lead as the final 67 lap green lap segment got underway.

With Biffle, the only leading car not to take fresh tyres with 85 laps remaining, becoming an increasingly awkward roadblock for everyone else, Harvick sailed serenely into the middle distance. By the time the chequered flag waved, the Bakersfield, California native had opened up a lead nearly the length of the front stretch.

Behind Harvick, the shape of the top ten changed dramatically in the closing laps as several drivers lucky enough to avoid the early and mid-race carnage, heartbreakingly found themselves with tyre troubles within sight of the finish.



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NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo driver Kevin Harvick at Daytona International Raceway, Daytona Beach, Fl-Feb. 05. ©Dorsey Patrick,2005
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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