NASCAR » 4 April 2005
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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