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Harvick Ends Winless Drought At Talladega

[1]Kevin Harvick broke his 115-race winless streak by beating Jamie McMurray to the finish line by 0.011 seconds in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

On the third and final attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, Harvick pushed McMurray ahead of the pack, making it a two-car race for the win. Coming off of Turn 4, Harvick made a move to the inside and beat McMurray in a drag race to the finish line.

Top 5: Harvick, McMurray, Juan Montoya, Denny Hamlin, and Mark Martin.

David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Mike Bliss rounded out the top 10.

Notables: Carl Edwards (11th), Martin Truex Jr (12th), Dale Earnhardt Jr (13th), David Reutimann (14th), Tony Stewart (16th), Greg Biffle (17th), Kasey Kahne (21st), Jeff Gordon (22nd), Matt Kenseth (28th), Brian Vickers (29th), Jimmie Johnson (31st), Jeff Burton (32nd), Brad Keselowski (34th), Ryan Newman (35th), Joey Logano (36th), and Michael Waltrip (39th).

Give a call to Mike Bliss, who posted a top 10 finish in Phoenix Racing’s No. 09 Chevy. That team lost its sponsor before the season started. And, about two weeks ago, the team parted ways with driver Aric Almirola, and put Bliss in the car.

Michael Waltrip deserves credit, as well. Driving for Prism Motorsports, Waltrip made the start in the No. 55 Toyota to commemorate Aaron’s 55th anniversary. He lead some laps, and appeared to have a strong car until he made contact with the wall. Later, he was caught up in a wreck. He finished 39th.

Scott Speed and Travis Kvapil also deserve kudos for finishing 15th and 18th, respectively. They stayed in touch with the lead draft all day and stayed out of trouble.

Also deserving kudos are Regan Smith, Bobby Labonte, Elliott Sadler, Sam Hornish, Robby Gordon, and AJ Allmendinger. They all lead laps the old-fashioned way, by driving their cars to the lead instead of staying out to lead a lap under caution.

The race saw a record number of race leaders (29) and lead changes (88) with several smaller teams making their way to the front and leading laps. The drivers were racy, early on. But, despite many lead changes, and a lot of three-wide action, the first half of the race was relatively quiet.

On lap 76, Denny Hamlin spun as he tried to pass Michael Waltrip. Hamlin spun through the grass, but didn’t hit anything and was able to continue on.

Less than 10 laps later, Kyle Busch was pushing Johhny Sauter in the tri-oval, causing Sauter to spin. He made contact with Kurt Busch to the inside, then spun back outside into Michael Waltrip. Elliott Sadler dove to the inside to avoid the wreck, but in doing so, made contact with Matt Kenseth. They spun, with Sadler hitting Max Papis and Kenseth hitting Paul Menard. David Stremme was also involved.

Late in the race, Jeff Gordon got a shove from Ryan Newman, and got a run on the inside line. Jimmie Johnson, who was in the middle, dove inside to block, forcing Gordon below to the yellow line. Gordon saved it on the apron, but he lost a lot of positions.

With about five laps to go, Mike Bliss turned Jeff Burton into the wall in the tri-oval. Burton bounced off of the wall twice, before sliding down the track into Jeff Gordon. Bliss made contact with Kasey Kahne, who then hit Scott Speed, sending Speed sliding across the infield grass. Gordon and Burton suffered heavy damage, though Gordon was able to salvage a lead lap finish out of it.

After the race Gordon said:

The 48 [Jimmie Johnson] is testing my patience, I can tell you that. It takes a lot to make me mad and I am pissed right now.

On the first attempt at a green-white-checker finish, several cars were into the wall when Joey Logano turned Ryan Newman in the corner. Newman hit Bobby Labonte and Elliott Sadler. Newman and Sadler shot up to the wall, collecting Logano. Labonte slid down the track into Marcos Ambrose, sending him up the track and into the wall. Labonte also made contact with Sam Hornish. Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, and Brian Vickers had nowhere to go, and all three were collected, too.

On the second green-white-checkered attempt, Greg Biffle slowed — he may have been out of fuel — and started losing positions. Jimmie Johnson attempted to get in front of him before he was clear, and they two made contact. Johnson was unable to save it. He spun and got back into Biffle. The two slid down the backstretch infield, with Johnson hitting the wall. Biffle finished 17th, Johnson finished 31st.