2011-04-07 / Sports

Harvick Outruns Junior At Martinsville

By Gerald Hodges
THE RACING REPORTER


Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Kevin Harvick caught and passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the lead with five laps remaining in Sunday’s 500-lap Goody’s 500, then held him and Kyle Busch off for his second consecutive win of the season.

“What an awesome day it was for us,” Harvick said. “I didn’t think we had the car. Those last two tires we put on really helped us get up front.

“I hate that I was the one that kept Junior from winning a race, but that’s the way it has to be sometime.”

The win was the first at Martinsville for a Richard Childress driver since Dale Earnhardt Sr. won in 1995.

Junior was able to hold on to second and finished two- one-hundredths of a second ahead of Kyle Busch.

“I don’t think I could have done any better,” said Junior. “When he got under me, I had gotten a little loose. I caught back up, and I gave Kevin a bump, but I didn’t want to wreck him.

“We had a fast car. I didn’t think it was a winning car, but we came close. It seems like when I lose track position the team pitches in and helps me get it back. They did a great job today.

“I’m glad we’re in the mix of things, but I’m frustrated that I got so close to winning.”

Kyle Busch led the most laps (151), but lost the lead during Lap 480 to Earnhardt.

“We had our car set up for long runs,” said Busch. “We needed a longer run near the end. We just weren’t set up for short runs.”

Juan Montoya, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, and Mark Martin were the remaining top-10 drivers.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 6 of 36: 1. Kyle Busch- 219, 2. Edwards-214, 3. Johnson 207, 4. Kurt Busch-205, 5. Harvick-204, 6. Newman- 203, 7. Montoya-201, 8. Earnhardt 199, 9. Kenseth-195, 10. Martin-181, 11. Stewart- 180, 12. J. Gordon-170

Sauter beats Kyle Busch

Johnny Sauter did what very few drivers have done this season.

He beat out Kyle Busch near the end of the race.

Sauter passed Busch on the next-to-last lap of Saturday’s Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway and held on to post his first Truck Series victory of the season and the third of his career.

Sauter said his truck was just about perfect.

“About the only thing that was missing today was leather interior,” he said in victory lane. “I think Kyle got in the corner and got loose. He got loose and swung the back around and tried to come back down, and I was there and I made contact with him.

“It’s pretty cool when you can beat Kyle Busch.”

Busch, who has never won a race at Martinsville, ran second, .453 seconds behind Sauter. Ron Hornaday Jr. finished third, followed by his team owner, Kevin Harvick, who recovered from early trouble to finish fourth.

“We had a shot, and we gave it away,” Busch said. “I just hate it. We had a really good truck, (but) on that last restart, I couldn’t turn. The front tires were just beat off it. If we didn’t have that last caution come out (on Lap 241 of 250), we probably would have been all right.”

Timothy Peters, Cole Whitt, Austin Dillon, Ricky Carmichael, Brendan Gaughan, and Max Papis were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Top-10 leaders after 4 of 24: 1. Sauter-150, 2. Crafton- 145, 3. Peters-143, 4. Whitt- 143, 5. Hornaday- 141, 6. Rogers-131, 7. Dillon-130, 8. Bodine-122, 9. Papis-121, 10. Paludo-109

Wood Bothers may run All-Star race

Trevor Bayne the young Wood Brothers driver and Daytona 500 winner might make it into this year’s allstar race at Charlotte.

“We’re working on something for the race, which is more than what we’ve talked about before,” Len Wood said. “I think we’ve got somebody as a sponsor. I think we’ve got something that popped up in the last 36 hours.”

The team still plans to run 18 events in 2011. It has run in the first five events and will run the next three races – Martinsville, Texas and Talladega. It does not plan to run Richmond and now that it is adding the allstar race, the Wood Brothers might take Darlington off after having that event on the original schedule.

Mark Martin joined an exclusive club this past Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, becoming the eighth driver to start 800 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

During a career that has spanned parts of four decades, Martin has tallied 40 victories, 264 top fives and 429 top 10s. His 40 wins rank 16th all-time.

“I hate to say this isn’t a big deal, because it is. But, to me, the bigger deal is what you accomplished in those starts, not just the starts themselves,” Martin said.

The others who have eclipsed the 800-start barrier: Richard Petty (1,185), Ricky Rudd (906), Dave Marcis (883), Terry Labonte (870), Kyle Petty (829), Bill Elliott (825), and Darrell Waltrip (809).

Martin finished second in the final championship point standings five times, most recently in 2009 – his first season with current team Hendrick Motorsports.

Weekend racing: It’s on to Texas Motor Speedway for the Cup and Nationwide teams. The Trucks do not race again until April 22.

April 8, Nationwide Series O’Reilly 300, race 6 of 34, starting time: 8:30 p.m.; TV: ESPN2.

April 9, Sprint Cup Samsung 500, race 7 of 36, starting time: 7:30 p.m.; TV: Fox.

Racing trivia question: How many NASCAR Cup championships has Darrell Waltrip won?

Last week’s question: Where is Kevin Harvick’s hometown? Answer. It is Bakersfield, Calif.

Correction: A couple weeks ago we stated that Joe Gibbs had once coached the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL. That was wrong. Coach Gibbs owned stock in the Falcons, and had to sell it before coaching the Washington Redskins for a second time.

Contact the Racing Reporter at hodges@race500.com.

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