2011-03-31 / Sports

Harvick Beats Johnson At California

By Gerald Hodges
THE RACING REPORTER


Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick FONTANA, Calif. – After five Sprint Cup races into the 2011 season, there have been five different winners.

Kevin Harvick’s win Sunday at California made him the fifth winner.

Harvick made a pass around Johnson on the last lap that was about the only dramatic moment of a boring 200-lap race.

Kyle Busch was leading the race after a restart on lap 190. Johnson passed Busch with four-to-go, with Harvick right on his tail. Harvick dogged Johnson until the two cars were going down the back straightaway on the last lap.

Harvick put the nose of his No. 29 Chevrolet under the rear bumper of Johnson’s car and pushed him as they entered the third turn. The extra momentum forced Johnson to slow down a little. Harvick went to the outside, took the lead, then cut down to the low part of the track, as the two cars headed to the checkered flag.

Harvick’s margin of victory was about a car-length.

Kyle Busch led the most laps (151), and had the dominant car for most of the day, but wound up third.

“We lost the handling on the car,” said Busch. “I couldn’t handle it going into the turns or coming out of the turns. We were in position to win, but I couldn’t get it down.”

The remaining top-10 finishers were Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, Kasey Kahne, and polesitter Juan Montoya.

Kenseth’s fourth place in the waning laps of the race led three Roush Fenway cars to finish in the top 11.Carl Edwards used a sixth-place finish to claim the Sprint Cup points lead, giving Roush Fenway the lead in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. never led a lap and finished 12th.

Tony Stewart had a strong car all day, but wound up 13th.

Top-12 Chase leaders after 5 of 36: 1. Edwards-187, 2. Newman-178, 3. Kurt Busch- 177, 4. Kyle Busch-176, 5. Johnson-173, 6. Stewart-170, 7. Menard-164, 8. Montoya- 161, 9. Harvick- 157, 10. Kenseth-157, 11. Kahne-157, 12. Earnhardt-156

Kyle Busch continues Nationwide domination

Thanks to a two-tire call with 13 laps left, Kyle Busch won Saturday’s Nationwide race at Fontana, Calif., over runner-up Carl Edwards.

It was Busch’s third consecutive win in the Nationwide series and the fourth in the past five races at Fontana. He now has 46 career wins in the series, three short of the series record of Mark Martin, who finished eighth Saturday.

“I think it’s pretty satisfying when you can win one like that,” Busch said. “I mean, it’s great to go out there and kick everybody’s butt and win the race and just come to the media center and go home. But today, it’s a little bit more fun.”

During the last round of pit stops, Kyle Busch was the only driver to put on two tires. All the rest of the leaders took on four.

“I did not think of two tires until we were jacked up on the left side of the car,” Edwards said. “I thought, ‘Man, this is kind of close to the end.’ I wonder if somebody will take two, but I didn’t really think about it more than that.”

“I guess it’s a little bit of shame that it didn’t come down to a real battle at the end, but it very well could have. A little bit of a slower stop on Kyle’s car or a caution or something like that, and it was going to be an insane finish.”

Kevin Harvick finished third. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran fourth and took the lead in the series standings by six points over Jason Leffler ( 11th Saturday). Elliott Sadler came home fifth.

Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Aric Almirola, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-10 finishers.

Top-10 points leaders after 5 of 34: 1. Stenhouse-181, 2. Leffler-175, 3. Allgaier-155, 4. Almirola-155, 5. Sorenson- 151, 6. Bayne-150, 7. Sadler- 149, 8. K. Wallace-140, 9. Scott-138, 10. Bliss-125.

Commentary

Many NAS-CAR drivers have gotten involved with Twitter and Facebook, some extensively, tweeting practically from the moment they wake up in the morning.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t one of them.

Certainly, he understands Twitter’s usefulness and his team’s use of it, but he just can’t get into it.

“I used to have a Myspace.com page and I used to have a Facebook page, (but) I don’t anymore because it was just too much responsibility,” he said. “I felt like you had to plug in and be involved with it so much and I thought personally I don’t need to do it. I understand we use it on the business side and how it works for JRM, but personally, you know, it would be fun for about a month, and then I would start to feel like it was a job where people expected me to do it.”

Meanwhile Trevor Bayne, the surprise winner of this year’s Daytona 500 still doesn’t have a ride for this year’s All-Star race at Charlotte. His regular team, the Wood Brothers, is running a limited schedule, without the All- Star race.

There was speculation that Roush Fenway, who builds the Fords used by the Wood Brothers, might sponsor him.

Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark said the team has no plans to sponsor him in the All-Star event.

“It’s not anything we’ve had discussions about,” Newmark said. “We’re focused on having Trevor run in Nationwide and try to win the championship. We’re hopeful that the Wood Brothers will figure out a way to get Trevor in the All-Star race, but we haven’t had any discussions about putting him in any of our vehicles.”

Weekend racing: It’s back to Martinsville, the oldest and smallest track on the NASCAR circuit for the Cup and Truck teams this weekend. The Nationwide teams are off.

Martinsville opened in 1947 with 750 seats, and the track configuration has not changed.

Saturday, April 2, Camping World Truck Series race 4 of 24, starting time: 2 p.m.; TV: Speed.

Sunday, April 3, Sprint Cup Goody’s 500, race 6 of 36, starting time: 12 p.m.; TV: Fox. All times are Eastern.

Racing trivia question: Where is Kevin Harvick’s hometown?

Last week’s question: Who is the actual car owner of Jimmy Johnson’s No. 48? Answer. The majority owner is Jeff Gordon.

Contact the Racing Reporter at hodges@race500.com.

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