Sprint Cup Recap — Toyota Owners 400
Kevin Harvick stole victory from the jaws of defeat at Richmond Saturday night, emerging from the carnage of a green-white-checkered finish to take home his first win of 2013.
Harvick seemed to be running out of time in the Toyota Owners 400, stuck chasing after Juan Pablo Montoya as the laps ticked down inside 10 to go. But, a Brian Vickers blown tire brought out the caution flag and set up an impossible decision for the top cars.
To pit, or not to pit?
More importantly, if you did pit, how many tires to take? Both Harvick & Montoya opted to take four fresh tires, leaving them in 7th and 6th respectively as Jeff Burton led them to the final green flag of the race.
The inside positioning for Harvick proved to be the difference as he was able to weave through the traffic, eventually passing Burton before on the outside before they even made it back to the white flag, to head to the checkered flag unopposed.
“I figured four, eight, 12…(however) may tires that were on the outside of me would be better than none,” Harvick said. “It all worked out, and here we are.”
For Montoya, the outside line left him bottled up with nowhere to go, forcing him to settle for a fourth place finish.
All the action didn’t just take place in the front of the pack, however.
Kurt Busch managed to both anger & get angered during the same ¾ mile final lap at Richmond. He bumped Tony Stewart out of the groove in turn 4, pushing Stewart back to an 18th place finish & was nudged out of the way by Matt Kenseth while battling for 7th place, dropping the #78 car back to 9th.
After the checkered, Busch expressed his displeasure with Kenseth, nudging him from behind throughout the first and second turns. Busch didn’t realize he had done the same thing to another driver, and Stewart drove him up the track, then back down it through turns 3 & 4.
Back in the pits, Stewart and Busch were seen exchanging words, but no punches seemed to be thrown.
Here’s what we learned at Richmond…
- Keselowski & Johnson are human. The #2 finished 33rd and the #48 finished 12th, and both were involved in multiple incidents. Johnson managed to salvage a top-15, and Brad seemed like he was going to do the same before a motor problem cost him late, but the struggles for both teams were definitely uncharacteristic. This won’t be a trend.
- Tony Stewart is angry. This isn’t the first time Stewart has climbed out of his #14 car mad this season. He was upset with Joey Logano earlier in the year at California for a late race block, now he’s mad at Kurt Busch for a late race bump. In fairness, I’d be mad too if I was 22nd in the standings.
- Kurt Busch will win a race this year. The Furniture Row team may be small, but they are fierce. The #78 car has shown a lot of speed early this year, and Kurt Busch is just the type of elite talent that could send them to victory lane. I don’t know where it will happen, but it will happen in 2013. Book it.
Tommy Joe Martins is a former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver & a weekly racer at the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, he’s been a sports columnist for The Daily Mississippian, a radio host & a life-long NASCAR fan.