By Shaun Burke
After finishing 42nd in the Daytona 500, Kevin Harvick has asserted himself as the man to beat in the 2011 Spring Cup Series.
Harvick led just six laps in route to his second win in a row in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500.
Harvick struggled much of the day falling to the last car on the lead lap at one point in the race. His team spent the majority of the day working on the ill-handling Budweiser Chevrolet. “It was just a crazy day for us.” Says Harvick, “We started the race and our car was really, really loose. We came in and made a lot of adjustments, made it a little bit better and we kept working on it and then we wrecked it. And after we wrecked it, it actually got going pretty good.”
For a while, it looked like Dale Earnhardt Jr. was finally going to end his 98 race winless streak. Junior bumped Kyle Busch out of the lead with twenty to go and took off. Harvick quickly passed Kyle Busch as well and began chasing Junior down. “I knew the 29 was fast the run before that” says Junior, “He was really quick. We all watched him come up through the pack there. I knew he had speed. But he did have a car in front of him and I was trying to make it difficult for him to get by. “
Kyle Busch hung on to finish third after leading a race high 151 laps but will have to wait until October to attempt to win his first NASCAR race at Martinsville. “We had one of the best runs here we have ever had. And I probably had the best car here today.” Said Busch, “Unfortunately just didn’t win with it…We just didn’t quite have the car to do it on a short run. Every time we had the lead off pit road, we lost it and took about 28 laps to get going again.”
Rounding out the top five were Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon.
Coming into the race, major story was tires and whether the track would rubber in. After a few tire issues early in the race, the track appeared to rubber in. At one point, the entire field actually did green flag pit stops.
There was a scary crash on lap 280 as it appeared Martin Truex, Jr.’s throttle hung wide open. He slammed into the side of Kasey Kahne’s Red Bull Toyota and erupted into flames. He quickly jumped out of his car and ran to check on Kahne. Afterwards, Truex said he had no indication the throttle was going to hang up and he was just along for the ride.
Kyle Busch leads Carl Edwards by five points as NASCAR heads to the Lone Star state next week for the first night race of the season.