Harvick plays the waiting game

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:14 AM ET

Okay race fans, here is why Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday.

And it had nothing to do with the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet being the best race car on this day.

The race was advertised as the Aaron’s 499, but what we really got was the Aaron’s 532 when the race went to triple overtime on Talladega’s 2.66-mile oval.

What happened in the previous three-plus hours before that counted for diddly squat.

Harvick’s good luck started when the fastest car all day — the No. 31 Chevrolet of Jeff Burton — wrecked and took the second best car — Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet — out with him with 10 laps left.

So it all came down to NASCAR’s answer to sudden death overtime — the green, white, checkered — a two-lap shootout that invariably winds up in a crashfest where the best man doesn’t always win.

And it came to pass again times three at Talladega when a nine-car crash after the first attempt at a finish put the race into double overtime. Then four-time champion Jimmie Johnson got clipped by the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle on that restart to stretch the race to a third green-white-checkered finish.

It was only after all of those events did Harvick show up near the front to beat the

No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray to the finish line by a mere 12/1000ths of a second.

That is the way it always seems to be in restrictor plate racing, where NASCAR mandates that all cars have their engines choked to death with plates that drastically reduce the amount of air that gets through to the carburetor, thus killing precious horsepower.

All of that contributes to huge packs of cars whistling around Talladega at 190 m.p.h. inches from one another, with none having the extra power to make a break for the lead.

So some drivers — like Harvick did on Sunday — hang around the fringes of the action in an attempt to avoid the inevitable carnage. Then on the final lap, he latches on to McMurray’s bumper before making a charge to win just a couple of hundred yards from the finish line.

And that is how Harvick got to victory lane.

Pit stops

In his sophomore NASCAR Sprint Cup season 19-year-old Joey Logano is making Joe Gibbs look like a genius — again — for signing the youngster to replace Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota ... If ever one of the big players in sports broadcasting decides to put a woman in the booth, two of the prime candidates are currently working NASCAR races. Wendy Venturini at Speed-TV and Krista Voda at FOX Sports have proven they have the chops to jump up to play-by-play duties ... The decision by Shell Oil to bolt Richard Childress Racing for Roger Penske Racing next season has thrown a wrench into Harvick’s plans for 2010. Harvick thought he had Shell in his back pocket if he had decided to form his own Cup team next season and could use that threat to get a bigger contract from RCR. Now that leverage is gone ... More than one NASCAR fantasy pool that gives points for picking the first car out of a race have outlawed picking Dave Blaney and the No. 66 team because of its blatant start-and-park strategy. It is sort of a reverse of the old Wayne Gretzky rule in hockey pools.

Finish lines

The only Canadian-based team in the Grand-Am Rolex series — AIM Motorsports — turned in its best performance of the season on Saturday with a second-place finish at the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway. Toronto native Mark Wilkins and his driving partner Burt Frisselle brought the Pacific Mobile No. 61 Ford Riley home just behind the winning Ganassi Racing duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. “We had a great car all weekend long,” Wilkins said.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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