Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Sports

Harvick wins NASCAR Cup race at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. — When the dust settled at Richmond, 'Ol Happy Harvick was the only driver smiling.

Kevin Harvick plowed through traffic on a green-white-checkered restart in the Toyota Owners 400, driving from seventh to Victory Lane in a two-lap sprint to the finish Saturday at Richmond International Raceway. He did it with one of those head-scratching "Where did he come from?" drives.

"Just shifted gears, hit the pedal and hoped for the best," Harvick said. "They all went high and I went low. The seas kind of parted there. They didn't get a very good restart, and my car launched.

"I was able to take it three-wide, those guys all drove it in hard, and I was able to get by the next two. I only had one to go by the time I got to the backstretch."

It was Harvick's first Sprint Cup win this season — he opened with a win in the exhibition Sprint Unlimited at Daytona — and his 20th career victory.

Juan Montoya was trying for his first win since 2010 when the caution came out with four laps remaining.

"I was like, 'Really? Really?' " Montoya said of the caution. He pounded the steering wheel when the yellow flag waved.

Montoya and Harvick took four tires under caution, which put them sixth and seventh for the final restart. Harvick's Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton led; he, Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger stayed on the track.

Clint Bowyer was second for his ninth consecutive top-10 finish on a short track. Joey Logano wound up third with Montoya fourth and Burton fifth.

Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch tapped each other's cars after the checkered flag after late contact after the restart between the two.

Tampa's Aric Almirola finished eighth, his third consecutive top-10 finish, and David Reutimann of Zephyrhills was 22nd.

Engine caution: A parts review by Toyota after Matt Kenseth's penalty led the manufacturer to pull three engines from Michael Waltrip Racing's inventory as a precaution. All three were earmarked for Bowyer. One was his engine for Saturday at Richmond. "We took every connecting rod in our inventory and removed anything that was too close for comfort," Toyota Racing Development vice president David Wilson said. NASCAR hit Kenseth and JGR with harsh penalties last week after rods were found to be underweight.

Fight night: Nelson Piquet Jr. was involved in a post-race altercation that led to the arrest of two crew members for Richard Childress Racing, his team said. Piquet and RCR driver Brian Scott tangled on the track during Friday night's Nationwide series race and in the pits after. Piquet shoved Scott then kicked him in the groin. "When I went to talk to him, he just pushed and shoved me and then kicked me below the belt," Scott said. Henrico County police said a fight in the motor home lot led to the arrests — Michael Searce on two charges of misdemeanor assault and Thomas Costello on one count of misdemeanor assault. They were released early Saturday.

NHRA: Rain canceled most of qualifying at the SpringNationals in Houston. One round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying was completed, and 12 Pro Stock cars made attempts before rain became too steady. Doug Kalitta took the No. 1 position in Top Fuel, Cruz Pedregon led Funny Car, Jeg Coughlin topped Pro Stock, and Hector Arana Jr. topped Pro Stock Motorcycle.

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