Harvick Takes Zippo 200

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) -- Kevin Harvick had victory lane to himself Saturday, using perfect pit strategy to win the Zippo 200 on Saturday at Watkins Glen International.

Harvick, the defending Busch Series champion, led 37 laps and beat Jeff Burton by 3.5 seconds for his second consecutive win, fifth this season and 31st of his career. That ties him with Jack Ingram for second all-time behind Mark Martin's 47.

"We've won 31 of these races," Harvick said. "But you don't get to race against those guys. All you have is the history."

Polesitter Kurt Busch was third, followed by Paul Menard and rookie Brad Coleman. Juan Pablo Montoya, who started on the front row and was seeking a record third NASCAR road course win of the season, ran up front much of the day but finished 33rd after being caught up in a crash with Jason Leffler on a restart with 14 laps remaining in the 82-lap race.

"On the restart, everybody checked up and I got hit from behind," Montoya said.

There was no denying Harvick's victory this week, unlike last week when Robby Gordon went to victory lane after being disqualified.

Gordon intentionally wrecked Marcos Ambrose in the closing laps of the race in Montreal and did a victorious burnout even though Harvick was declared the winner.

Gordon was never a factor in this race despite starting fourth. Gordon, who finished second to Kurt Busch in the Zippo 200 last year after a stirring last-lap battle, went to the garage with shifter problems midway through and finished 36th.

Runaway points leader Carl Edwards finished 32nd after sway bar problems forced him to the pits for repairs.

Busch zoomed to a big early lead at the outset, but the race eventually changed after Max Papis blew an engine on the front straight of the second lap to bring out the first of five cautions.

Harvick, Burton and Menard all pitted for fuel and when Busch, Montoya, and Scott Pruett made their first stops 11 laps later, Canadian road race ace Ron Fellows assumed the lead.

Fellows held the top spot for 11 laps as Harvick moved to second, and he took the lead for the first time on lap 21 when Fellows pitted. Harvick held the spot with Menard and Matt Kenseth in close pursuit until pitting for the final time on lap 40.

Busch then regained the lead for eight laps with Ambrose second and Greg Biffle third, but when the leaders had to make their final stops Harvick took over on lap 50 and led the rest of the way.

"We stuck to our plan and did what we thought we should do. Pit strategy was perfect all day," said Harvick, who won his first Nextel Cup road race here a year ago. "This week we put an exclamation point on it (the Montreal win). We beat all the same guys that were involved in that scenario last week. It feels real good. Not to have them even talk about you after a race is kind of frustrating."

Busch appeared set to make one final challenge, pulling within 3 seconds of the lead, but his brakes started to fade and he lost a spot after sliding off course heading into turn 1 in the closing laps.

"I felt like we had a great day in store and started out pacing the field early on," Busch said. "When we pitted early, we took four tires and some guys took fuel only. That put us far behind. That's what led our brakes to fade on us. Right when it was show time, the pedal bounced to the floor."

Harvick said he had enough fuel for a green-white-checker finish, thanks to the calculations of crew chief Shane Wilson.

"Shane knew what was in the fuel tank," Harvick said. "I asked him twice when he wanted to pit on lap 2. As a driver, you're running seventh, you come in and everybody stays out. That's hard."


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email: feedback@wibw.com
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 9104381 - wibw.com/a?a=9104381