2010-04-29 / Local & State

Third Overtime Is Charm For Harvick

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

TALLADEGA, Ala. – For the first time in NASCAR history there were three attempts at a green-whitecheckered finish in a Cup race, and Kevin Harvick came out the winner, Sunday at Talladega.

Harvick was in the third spot at the beginning of the third and final restart. He made it to the rear of leader Jamie McMurray’s bumper and pushed him around the track until the third turn of the last lap, before giving McMurray a little sideways bump, causing McMurray to lose momentum.

Harvick then moved under McMurray’s No. 1 and beat him to the finish by 0.012- seconds, or about a yard.

The win was the first Cup win for Harvick since the 2007 Daytona 500.

McMurray had the lead twice on green-white-checkered restarts when cars wrecked behind him.

The first time he was leading Greg Biffle and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya when Joey Logano got into the back of Ryan Newman, collecting nine cars.

There were a total of 22 cars that were wrecked during the three green-whitecheckered restarts.

Jeff Gordon was one of those. His teammate, Jimmie Johnson, forced him to go below the yellow line and he lost momentum. A few seconds later, Jeff Burton crashed into the outside wall and came down on Gordon.

“I don’t know what happened, but I got collected,” said Gordon. “We got a huge push down the back straightaway and I was running probably 10 miles an hour faster than the others.

“The 48 (Jimmie Johnson) is testing my patience. It takes a lot to make me mad and I am pi**ed.”

Gordon dropped from fifth to 10th in points.

The remaining top-10 finishers: 3. Juan Montoya, 4. Denny Hamlin, 5. Mark Martin, 6. David Ragan, 7. Clint Bowyer, 8. Kurt Busch, 9. Kyle Busch, 10. Mike Bliss

Dale Earnhardt Jr. led several laps, and each time he came by the grandstands as the leader, you could hear the applause from his fans. Talladega is definitely Earnhardt country.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 9 of 36: 1. Johnson-1323, 2. Harvick-1297, 3. Biffle-1237, 4. Kenseth-1224, 5. Kyle Busch-1163, 6. Martin-1154, 7. Kurt Busch-1146, 8. Earnhardt 1142, 9. Hamlin-1138, 10. J. Gordon-1130, 11. Bowyer- 1086, 12. Burton-1082

Top-10 finishers of the Aaron’s 312, run Sunday at Talladega: 1. Brad Keselowski, 2. Joey Logano, 3. Kevin Harvick, 4. Jason Keller, 5. Johnny Borneman, 6. Clint Bowyer, 7. Tony Raines, 8. Paul Menard, 9. Brian Vickers, 10. Brian Scott

Top-10 Nationwide leaders after 8 of 35: 1. Keselowski 1324, 2. Harvick-1264, 3. Kyle Busch-1220, 4. Allgaier- 1171, 5. Edwards-1111, 6. Menard-1085, 7. Logano- 1078, 8. Scott-876, 9. Biffle- 864, 10. Lagasse-854

James Finch calling it quits

“It’s time to do something different,” said James Finch, owner of Phoenix Racing.

Finch’s driver, Brad Keselowski, won last year’s Talladega race, but after his 2010 Cup sponsor, Miccosukkee Indian Casino, backed out, Finch said his entire racing operation is up for sale.

For a price, the new owner would acquire a 70,000- square foot building complete with 35 race cars, all the machinery and two houses on nine acres in Spartanburg, S.C.

“I’ve had a real good time,” Finch continued. “But it’s time to do something else. Offer me a fair price, then give me half and we’ll have a deal.”

Finch fielded cars for a variety of drivers in NASCAR’s Cup and Nationwide Series as well as ARCA. He won 12 NNS races with six different drivers on nine different tracks. But his most coveted win came at Talladega last year as Finch provided rookie Brad Keselowski with an opportunity to earn his first Sprint Cup victory.

According to Fox sports, Finch took his entire share of the $312, 075 purse and offered it to Keselowski for his parents, lifelong racers who campaigned in ARCA and NASCAR with their familyowned operation.

Keselowski made his NASCAR debut behind the wheel of the K Automotive Ford truck in 2004 at Martinsville. “I did some cool things for my parents with that,” Keselowski added. “I was proud to be able to help them out financially because they’re going through some hard times. It’s cool to be able to be there for them.”

James Buescher is Finch’s latest protege. The 20-yearold from Plano, Texas, finished the last two races of the season for Finch in the NNS and is currently 19th in the point standings. His best finish this season was eighth at Daytona.

Aric Almirola had been scheduled to run a partial Cup schedule before Miccosukkee pulled out.

Many times in the past, Finch pulled out his wallet to help small, struggling driver that didn’t have money to make certain races.

James Finch, you’re a good man. It saddens me to know you’re leaving NASCAR. You deserve better.

Rumors circulating in the garage area have it that Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Cup car, are close to dissolving their relationship. If it becomes reality at the end of this season, Harvick would be the top free agent driver on the market.

His preferred destination is Stewart-Haas Racing, where he’d have Hendrick equipment. Tony Stewart is on the record as wanting to expand to three cars next season, dependent upon sponsorship. With Harvick to sell to sponsors and the broad range of commercial possibilities available through the team’s partner-like association with Hendrick, Stewart Haas would have no problems finding a sponsor for Harvick.

However, there has been speculation that Kasey Kahne’s decision to join Hendrick Motorsports might put him in a Stewart-Haas car in 2011.

We’ll have to wait and see how this shapes up, but either way, Stewart-Haas would have another capable and marketable driver.

Weekend racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams will have night races at the .75- mile Richmond, Va., track while the Trucks race on Sunday at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway.

Friday, April 30, Nationwide Series, race 9 of 35; starting time: 7 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.

Saturday, May 1, Sprint Cup Crown Royal 400, race 10 of 36; starting time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: Fox.

Sunday, May 2, Camping World Trucks, race 5 of 25; Starting time: 12:30 p.m. ET; TV: Speed Channel.

Racing trivia question: What series did Jimmie Johnson race in before moving to the Cup series?

Last week’s question: Who is the oldest driver to ever win a Cup race? Hint: It happened March 20, 1993, at Atlanta. Answer. Morgan Shepherd won the 1993 Motorcraft 500 at the age of 51.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@ earthlink.net

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