Kevin Harvick Hustles from Adversity to Win in Martinsville

Russell SchmidtContributor IApril 4, 2011

It only took one door left open by a loose Dale Earnhardt Jr (Amp car) to allow Kevin Harvick access to the bottom lane where he jumped into the lead and his second consecutive win in as many weeks.
It only took one door left open by a loose Dale Earnhardt Jr (Amp car) to allow Kevin Harvick access to the bottom lane where he jumped into the lead and his second consecutive win in as many weeks.John Harrelson/Getty Images

Racin’ with Russ—Among the record amount (31) of lead changes, numerous drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr. took turns out front, but for the second consecutive week, Kevin Harvick rose from adversity and captured the NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Martinsville Speedway with hard driving.

This time, it had the fans on their feet as Harvick made rapid ground during the final few laps to rattle a struggling Earnhardt Jr. aside and go on to capture his 16th career win.

If Earnhardt had concentrated on hugging the white line over the final few laps, Harvick would more than likely not have won the race. Earnhardt got a little loose and simply opened the door.

The race began with polesitter Jamie McMurray showing the fast way around the track, but that concept wound up being short-lived.

For a good part of the race it was boring, but then there were a couple of nasty wrecks that woke everyone up, including the track crew requiring 30 minutes of red flag time to fix the turn 3 safer barrier after Martin Truex Jr tested it with a stuck throttle, but not before catching a hapless Kasey Kahne. Both drivers were okay…cars were toasty.

Some tire issues continued throughout the race in which the rubber was falling off the tires in a dusty fashion and losing grip for the drivers. There were also numerous penalties handed out, such as passing before certain lines and speeding penalties on pit lane. Just ask Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart or Johnson about these situations.

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For the first half of the race, Harvick’s car was junk, buried in the lower 20s. Then they started working on it and working on it until it became the competitive animal it needed to be to pass the likes of Johnson, Gordon, Busch and Earnhardt.

The latest results of Harvick winning with Earnhardt, Busch, Juan Montoya and Gordon capping the top five finds Kyle Busch on top of the points by a narrow five points over Carl Edwards and 12 over Johnson.

Camping World Trucks—The latest round of truck racing was also held at Martinsville and turned out to be somewhat of a barn burner. There was lots of rubbin’, a few tempers involved and a non-Sprint Cup winner at the end.

In the closing laps of the 250-lapper, it once again appeared that Kyle Busch was going to add yet another notch in his personal win column and what would have been his first of any kind of NASCAR win at the Virginia half-mile track, but Johnny Sauter had other ideas.

Sauter had earlier claimed the pole and demonstrated a very fast truck all through the race. But with various pit stop combos and normal race conditions, he would be shuffled back a bit from the top spot. But, in a very late restart situation, Sauter got up on the wheel and barely tapped Busch’s rear bumper on the final lap and went on to claim his third career truck trophy.

A very happy Sauter thanked his crew in post-race interviews, while Busch proclaimed his front tires were just gone. Finishing behind Sauter at the stripe were the trucks of Busch, Ron Hornaday, Kevin Harvick and Timothy Peters.

The latest results finds Sauter atop the points with Matt Crafton only five in arrears.

From Rumorville—Kimi to Pick ‘em ups? Yes, it appears so.

Ex-Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen has signed an agreement with Kyle Busch Motorsports to test the waters this week in one of their trucks in preparation for the European stars debut next month at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This is far from the first open-wheeler looking to see what the taxi-cab set is all about.

Do I think Kimi can cut it? First of all, this is a different cat. If race fans thought Scott Speed’s European cut was different, they’re in for a real treat.

Kimi is very talented, not a real people person and speaks along the lines of Ward Burton after 10 drinks. He mumbles a lot without opening his mouth very much, so NASCAR interviews or communicating with his crew should be a hoot.

—NASCAR driver David Stremme recently announced his signing with a new team to compete on a partial Sprint Cup schedule this year and follow up with a full-time situation for 2010. The team's first outing is set for Richmond later this month. This is a driver in my opinion that should be racing on the weekends and not surfing his couch watching others.

Next week’s RWR will review the action from Texas, where the Sprint Cups and Nationwide teams will compete along with more racing news from around the globe.

Questions? Comments? Contact Russ at racinwithruss@comcast.net