Harvick crushed the rest of the field in Saturday’s Kroger 250, winning in seemingly effortless fashion by .953 seconds over Richard Childress Racing teammate Ty Dillon.
A caution for David Reutimann’s right-front tire on Lap 227 of 250 erased Harvick’s 1.4-second lead at that point, but after a restart on Lap 245, Harvick’s claim to the trademark grandfather clock trophy was a mere formality.
“Not a bad way to make our first truck start for RCR,” Harvick radioed after he crossed the finish line. Harvick led 248 laps, a series record.
James Buescher finished third, followed by Justin Lofton and Timothy Peters. Nelson Piquet Jr., Ross Chastain, Jason Leffler, John King and Jason White completed the top 10.
From 2008 through 2011, Harvick started 25 Truck Series races, all in his own equipment, and won 11 times. At the end of the 2011 season, however, the desire to start a family took precedence over NASCAR ownership, and Harvick and wife DeLana sold their Truck and Nationwide Series assets.
Some of Harvick’s truck equipment went to Eddie Sharp, some to Richard Childress.
Behind the wheel, it didn’t matter one bit that Harvick was driving a No. 2 Chevrolet fielded by his Sprint Cup Series owner.
First, Harvick won the pole for his season debut. Then he won the race, notching the 14th NCWTS victory of his career and his third at Martinsville.
Harvick was so dominant that, shortly after a restart on lap 165, he asked his spotter to relay a message to Dillon’s team. Harvick wanted Dillon to know that he was running at about 80 percent of his truck’s potential. “Tell him not to burn his stuff up (trying to catch us),” Harvick said.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve dominated like that and actually won,” Harvick said after the race. “We made a lot of changes over the offseason, moving teams to RCR, and this is what we’d hope for—to make what was a good truck team a better truck team.”
Harvick chose the outside lane on restarts to help ensure that Dillon, a rookie competing for the series championship, finished second.
“I knew we had a little bit better truck than what they had,” Harvick said, “but I didn’t want him to get hung on the outside. They’re racing for a championship, and it’s our job as the No. 2 team to go out there and help them and try to make sure they win the championship and we win races.”
King, who lost a lap early and regained it with a free pass, retained the series lead by one point over Peters and Lofton.
Jeb Burton, son of former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, was involved in a multicar wreck on Lap 235 but recovered to finish 13th in his series debut.