Harvick Wins at California
Kevin Harvick made what was an otherwise uneventful race into something much more dramatic with a last-lap win over Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.
For most of the day, it was a follow Kyle Busch parade. Now, a lot of folks will say it was a boring race because there were few cautions and most of those were for debris. But there was actually a lot of racing and passing going on, even if not for the lead. Fontana may be great for Indy cars, but it is less so for fans of stock cars. A wide track with sweeping turns, it often produces less than thrilling racing. But like I said, if you were really into the race, you got to see quite a bit going on. For example, Brian Vickers started in 19th and finished 8th. For most of the day he was charging through the field, making some interesting 3-wide racing (at times it was 4-wide). For Vickers fans who have not had a lot to cheer for this year, it was gratifying to see him back on his game.
Dale Jr. and Greg Biffle also started deep in the field and made a run for the top 10, finishing in 12th and 11th place respectively. Jeff Burton fans saw him run with the leaders before he finished a disappointing 15th. Martin Truex, Jr. flexed some early muscle once again before fading horribly. Ken Schrader did not have the best day, but heck, it was Ken Schrader racing again! No start and park for that boy.
But for the most part, it was follow Kyle.
A late caution saw many of those on the lead lap from about 7th on back pit for tires. With tires giving up after about 15 laps, they all thought that new tires would help propel them to a win, or at least a better finish. But it didn’t really work out that way.
Staying on the track for position was obviously the right choice for those who did not pit. Johnson had been running so-so all day and suddenly found himself next to Kyle on the restart. Busch apparently had everything in hand as he went to the lead but a bobble allowed Johnson to pass him for the lead and what appeared to be a win. But not so fast. As Busch and Johnson raced each other, Kevin Harvick suddenly appeared and had what was the fastest car – on old tires.
Harvick caught Johnson, ran up on his bumper just to let him know who was there and then passed him for the win as they approached the checkers, making most folks who were still awake suddenly stand up and cheer.
You had to love it. While California may not produce the most exciting racing for 399 miles, it certainly provided a great finish and one that we may be pointing to in about another 10 races as the one that got Harvick back into contention.
Five races, five different winners and on to Martinsville for what will probably be different winner number 6.
I think Denny Hamlin has something to prove….
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