Harvick Passes Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Win Second Consecutive Race
Race fans who left Fontana disillusioned about the lack of excitement weren’t let down this weekend at Martinsville.
The Goody’s Fast Relief 500 brought all of the aspects of racing that NASCAR enthusiasts tune in for. There were big wrecks, beatin’ and bangin’, and a 30-lap shootout at the end.
Though tire problems plagued the weekend, a bad wreck between Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne brought the field to a halt for almost 25 minutes mid-race.
Truex Jr.’s throttle stuck wide open, as he collected Kahne while hitting the SAFER barrier hard in the third corner. Immediately, Truex Jr. jumped out of the car and ran over to the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota to make sure that Kahne was okay.
Thankfully, both drivers walked away from the accident but it proved how fast they’re actually going on a short-track.
Ultimately, Kevin Harvick emerged victorious even though he has piled on the drama for the past two weeks, waiting until the last few laps to take the lead.
His win didn’t sit well with fans in Junior Nation, as hopes were high that their driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., would return to Victory Lane for the first time in the past 98 races.
“I hate to be the bad guy here, but we’re in it to win it.”’ Harvick said. “It really shows what were made of here."
This is Harvick’s first win at Martinsville and his 16th career win. He now sits at fifth in the points, moving up four spots since last week's win at Fontana.
As expected, Earnhardt Jr. was frustrated after the race, having come so close to winning the race until Harvick pulled a bump-and-run on him with three laps to go.
Still, he is in high hopes, going forward rather than dwelling on "what if."
“I’m happy to be running well and happy to be in the mix,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “The 29 was coming and there wasn’t much I could do. We made some changes but nothing really did anything. Pit strategy got us to the front but it wasn’t enough.”
Kyle Busch fell short for the second week in a row, having led the most laps on Sunday once again, but he just couldn’t catch up to Harvick in time.
“We didn’t have a short-run car today,” Busch said. “I gained on them but I didn’t have enough time."
In spite of his second consecutive third place finish, Busch now leads the Sprint Cup Series points standings as the circuit prepares for next Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (Live at 7:30 PM EST on FOX).
Trailing Kyle Busch is Carl Edwards, just five points behind him, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, and Mark Martin. Just outside the top 10 in points are 11th place Tony Stewart, just 39 points from first place, Jeff Gordon and Paul Menard, who are both tied for 12th, and Denny Hamlin, who sits 19th.