Entered in a third straight truck race for the first time in 2011, Harvick notched his third straight victory with a convincing performance in Wednesday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Harvick, riding the momentum of wins at Pocono (Aug. 7) and last weekend at Michigan, pulled away on a final restart with 10 laps left to score a relatively comfortable win.
Points leader Johnny Sauter surged past Todd Bodine on the late restart to take second and stretch his advantage over James Buescher to seven points.
Bodine finished third, while Buescher and Timothy Peters completed the top five.
While Harvick celebrated another win, his chief adversary—three-time defending Bristol race winner Kyle Busch—finished behind the wall with a torn-up truck.
And Busch wasn’t at all happy about the circumstances that led to his early departure.
Battling with Elliott Sadler in the top five on Lap 99 of 200, Busch hit the wall hard with the right front when his Toyota appeared to cut up into Sadler.
Upset about the contact, Busch nursed his damaged truck slowly around the track and waited for Sadler to come back around before sending the Virginia native into a spin.
In postrace interviews, Busch took a verbal shot at Sadler, who was driving for Joe Denette Motorsports but more often competes for Kevin Harvick Inc.—the organization co-owned by Busch’s chief rival for the truck series’ owners’ title.
“Where does his paycheck come from?” Busch asked rhetorically when asked about the contact from Sadler. “We were racing earlier tonight and I pulled a slide job on him and he ran into me three times after that. Then got clear of him for a while and on that restart there I was trying to slide him and get up to the top. The spotter said I was clear and I was clear at the time. Maybe I was too late. He wrecked us and I’m not going to put up with it.”
Standing in victory lane, Harvick scoffed at the notion that Sadler’s KHI affiliation had anything to do with the Busch scrum.
“That’s just Kyle (upset) because Kyle didn’t win,” Harvick said. “Elliott Sadler wasn’t even driving my truck tonight. You can’t fix a crybaby and he’s just a crybaby.”
Sadler, who started from the pole, led early and recovered to finish ninth, denied any ill-intentions toward Busch.
“I didn’t even have time to check up or anything,” Sadler said. “He just wrecked himself.
“I just wish he’d watch the tape and understand what happened before he came back and retaliated.”
The war of words aside, Harvick’s night couldn’t have gone much better.
After taking the lead from Jason White on a Lap 98 restart, the team owner/driver never trailed again as he showed the way for the remaining 103 laps.
Harvick credited a fast stop by his crew under caution on Lap 32 for getting him the track position to win. Harvick restarted sixth but was first among drivers who had pitted. He then needed fewer than 70 laps to reach the front.
“They had a smoking fast pit stop,” said Harvick, who gained four spots on pit road. “That was really the key moment in the race for us.”
Ron Hornaday’s disappointing season continued as the four-time champion spun off Turn 2 and hit the inside wall on the entrance to Turn 3 to bring out the race’s first caution on Lap 10. Hornaday finished 24th.