By admin | September 4, 2012
By Richard Allen
Since Clint Eastwood offered a somewhat unique speech at last week’s Republican National Convention, it seemed somewhat appropriate to do a takeoff on one of his film titles in describing the weekend Kevin Harvick experienced at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Besides, the title does fit the driver’s efforts on the 1.5 mile track.
First, consider Harvick’s run in Saturday night’s Nationwide Series event.
The Good: On the positive side, Harvick had the best car throughout most of the NRA American Warrior 300. After starting from the inside of the second row, the California native took the lead on lap 18 and set out to dominate the race. In all, he was at the top of the scoreboard for a total of 157 of the 195 circuits. There were times in which he built leads of more than ten seconds over the rest of the field.
Clearly, Harvick was the driver to beat in the Nationwide race.
The Bad: However, on the negative side, Harvick was indeed beaten in that race. Granted, he posted a solid 3rd place finish. But Kevin Harvick does not enter Nationwide races to merely post solid finishes.
A late race caution flag allowed the pack to close onto Harvick’s rear bumper. Eventually, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Brad Keselowski got around in the closing laps and dealt the #33 car an unexpected blow.
The Ugly: And as is sometimes the case when things don’t go his way, Harvick’s night turned ugly when he got out of the car. He went almost immediately to confront Keselowski, who he accused of throwing a water bottle out of his car to intentionally cause a caution. Later, the often outspoken driver may have caused himself some future grief when he criticized NASCAR for their use of debris cautions to create artificial drama.
Now, consider Harvick’s night in the AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup event.
The Good: First and foremost on the positive side, Harvick clinched a spot in the Chase for the Championship before the 26th race in Richmond ever even takes the green flag.
Also, Harvick led 101 laps in the Sprint Cup race and looked like a serious threat to take his first checkered flag of the season. Importantly, these were the first laps the #29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet had led since May’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte(and that was only one lap). For that matter, the team had been at the front for only 128 laps all season prior to this race.
Perhaps, the addition, or re-addition, of Gil Martin as crew chief may have made the difference for this team.
The Bad: As was the case in the previous night’s Nationwide race, there had to be some degree of frustration to have led so many laps only to fall back to 5th at the finish. In all, Harvick led 258 of the 522 total laps run in Atlanta by NASCAR’s two top divisions only to go away with no trophies.
The Ugly: Harvick came to pit road as the leader after a lap 243 caution for Juan Pablo Montoya’s brush with the outside wall. When he returned to the track in 3rd place, Harvick offered up a somewhat customary chastisement of his crew.
“We need to do our f**king jobs and keep our track position,” the driver barked after the pit stop. From that point, Harvick never led again and complained of his car being too tight in traffic.
So, Kevin Harvick’s race in Atlanta had some good, some bad and some ugly. More than that, a poorly timed late race caution and a mediocre pit stop certainly did not “Make his day.”
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