In A Nutshell: Kevin Harvick dominated the field at ORP Saturday night to score his fifth Busch Series victory of the season. Harvick passed early leader Denny Hamlin on lap 86 for the only lead change of the race and led the final 114 laps without incident. Even a late caution for debris that closed up the field and gave second place Reed Sorenson one more shot with 13 laps remaining couldn't derail Harvick's ride to the Winner's Circle. Sorenson spun his tires on the restart, and Harvick easily drove away to a 1.369 second margin of victory. J.J. Yeley, Greg Biffle, and Jeff Burton rounded out the Top 5 finishers.
Who Should Have Won: Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was the only guy who had anything for Harvick. He dominated the first half of the race, but the No. 20 Rockwell Automation team made a miscalculation on pit strategy that cost them dearly. Hamlin stayed on track instead of stopping with the leaders on lap 54, which came back to haunt him later when he found himself off cycle with other lead lap cars and with no choice but to stay out on very old tires. Hamlin still managed to hold off Harvick on newer tires briefly, but finally did surrender the lead on lap 86. After that, Hamlin played catch up the rest of the way and could only manage eighth place while fighting with lapped traffic.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1) Is Kevin Harvick running roughshod over the Busch Series?
Five wins and a massive points lead have left Harvick in the driver’s seat for the championship. So… is he a Busch driver or a Cup driver?
2) So did Clint Bowyer check up, or did Ron Hornaday run over him?
Guess that depends on how you view the tape. Or better yet, only two people know, and the point is up for dispute between them. In case you didn’t see, Bowyer was having a solid run in the Top 5 early on before his car got loose coming off of Turn 4, causing Hornaday to tap him from behind and send him spinning into the outside wall. Bowyer’s day was ruined; he finished 40th, and was none too happy about it.
3) Is there a point where lap cars must move over for lead lap cars even if they are racing another lapped car for position?
In the closing laps, Denny Hamlin couldn't get by the lapped cars of John Andretti and Ron Hornaday who were fighting for position side by side in front of him. Odds are he wouldn't have made it to Harvick's bumper in time to mount a challenge, but getting stuck in traffic definitely killed any chance he may have had.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Nice job by Danny O'Quinn, finishing sixth as the Raybestos Rookie of the Race. This sets the mark as O'Quinn's best career finish, up one spot from his previous best of seventh in Milwaukee. Sixth also makes O'Quinn the highest finishing Busch Series regular for the race.
As far as the points are concerned, Kevin Harvick just continues to pad that point lead, which now stands at an impressive 374 markers over second place Carl Edwards. Denny Hamlin moves up to third this week, 473 points behind. Clint Bowyer slides back one spot to fourth after his crash, and J.J. Yeley continues to hold down the fifth spot.
Paul Menard remains sixth in the standings, while Greg Biffle moves up one spot to seventh and Kyle Busch drops one spot to eighth. Johnny Sauter and Kenny Wallace remain ninth and tenth in what was a pretty quiet week for the Top 10.
Buschwhackers in this race: 9
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 315 of 997
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 7
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 167 of 230
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 21 of 23
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 in Busch Series points standings: 7
"It was awesome, man. All these guys did a good job. We came out of the pits making up spots. The car handled awesome tonight. I've got to thank everybody here on this team. We had just an awesome effort tonight." Danny O'Quinn
"I think we had a lot better car than 16th. We got spun there by the 90. The 88 checked up, and there was nothing I could do about it. I checked-up and he got into the back of me. It was a racing incident. I know Gilliland is clean driver, a friend of mine. But it's unfortunate, because I think we had a better car than 16th, but we're just happy coming from like 32nd back up there to 16th." Burney Lamar
"Someone got into the back of us or something. I don't even know what happened. It's one of those deals. It's a tight little place. At the beginning, everybody is bumped up bumper to bumper and nose to tail, and I wasn't the only one it happened to tonight." David Gilliland
Next Up: The Busch Series takes to the road, tackling the winding curves of Watkins Glen head on with the Zippo 200. Coverage starts at 2:00 PM ET on NBC on Saturday, August 12th.
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