RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kevin Harvick pulled away on a restart with 47 laps to go and ended Chase Elliott’s two-race winning streak in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series with a dominating victory early Saturday at Richmond International Raceway.
Harvick led 202 of the 250 laps in a race delayed nearly 3 1/2 hours at the start by rain Friday night. The victory was the 41st of his career in the series, and his record-extending seventh at 0.75-mile Richmond.
Elliott, the Georgia high-schooler and son of racing great Bill Elliott, was looking to win his third consecutive race and pad his points lead, but managed to do just the latter when Harvick was too fast.
“I think he just outdrove me a little bit, honestly” Elliott said. “Some of it was me. I kind of let him get too far out in front of me.”
The pair finished nearly seven seconds ahead of third-place finisher Kyle Busch, and Harvick said Elliott, a teammate at JR Motorsports, has had a positive impact that helped produce the 1-2 finish.
“He pushes us to be better by trying different things,” Harvick said. “He’s as good as they get and a lot of fun to be around.”
Busch never really contended, but said his team made steady gains all race long.
“The racing was sort of a struggle for us to start with,” he said.
Kyle Larson, awarded the pole for Saturday’s Sprint Cup race based on practice speeds when qualifying for that race was rained out earlier Friday night, finished fourth, with pole-sitter Brian Scott fifth.
Scott, the pole-sitter, led the first 239 laps here last September before getting passed by Brad Keselowski with 11 laps to go. Scott led the first 43 laps Friday night and stayed in the top 10 all night, but with Harvick repeatedly opening up huge margins, second place seemed like the prize at stake.
Elliott took that away as the only car that could challenge Harvick at the end.
The ending was tougher for Elliott Sadler, who had worked his way up to third with some nifty work by his pit crew, but when the race went back to green with 54 to go, he got turned around in Turn 2. It looked like Trevor Bayne nudged Regan Smith, who then nudged Sadler. The Emporia native finished sixth.
Elliott’s points lead grew from 13 to 19 over Smith, who finished eighth.
The race also marked the Nationwide Series debut for Daniel Suarez, who has impressed in the K&N Pro Series East Tour. He drove for Joe Gibbs Racing, starting 12th and finishing 19th. Suarez also was schedule to return to race in Saturday reschedule K&N Pro Series East Tour race starting at 9 a.m.
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