TORONTO - The way that Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 in California sent a strong signal that the mistake the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team made in 2010 won’t be repeated in 2011.
Harvick dogged Jimmie Johnson all the way through last season — in fact until the Chase for the Championship Harvick had topped the points parade for 20 or more of the first 26 races.
But there was always something that kept him from maintaining that perch — like when he took a pit road speeding penalty at the final race at Homestead.
Harvick also lost some races he should have won, like the race last season at California when he brushed the wall handing the victory to Johnson.
“Last year I made a mistake and gave the race away with two laps to go,” he said. “I was able to not make any mistakes (on Sunday).”
His move on Johnson on Sunday was reminiscent of how Dale Earnhardt once drove the black RCR Chevrolet. Harvick got up to Johnson’s bumper a nudged him enough to let him know if he didn’t move over the next bump would be for real.
“I knew I had a little left in the tank on the last restart,” he said. “I didn’t want the fenders to be knocked in and not have a chance.”
Once again Harvick emphasized he didn’t want to make the mistake that would cost him a win for the second consecutive season.
“I knew if I was going to hit the wall, it wasn’t going to be till turn four coming to the checkered,” he said. “It was tight, but it was the right time to go.
“I really had a good run coming off of turn two, and he rolled up in front of me, so I just laid on the back bumper all the way down the back straightaway, gave him a couple seconds to think about what was going to happen going into turn three. The reason I did that, I just needed the one lane up top. I knew what I was going to do. I was hoping he would just roll through the middle of the racetrack or on the bottom or something. So it all worked out.”
Harvick probably deserved a better fate last season, but this year he’s not going to count on luck, or fate, for that matter to decide his chances at a championship.
“As long as we keep our cars running the way that they are, we can overcome things.” he said.
Three IZOD IndyCar drivers suffered significant hand and wrist injuries during Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Justin Wilson, driver of the No. 22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car sustained a small fracture of his wrist and his D&R teammate Ana Beatriz had a fracture of her wrist.
Canada’s Alex Tagliani also hurt his hand and wrist when the steering wheel of his No. 77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports machine twisted out of his hands in a collision with Simone de Silvestro.
Of the injuries, Beatriz was the most severe.
INDYCAR director of medical services Dr. Michael Olinger said that she had surgery Tuesday to repair the damage while Wilson will be fitted with a special carbon fibre brace.
Toronto based Compass360 Racing started off the 2011 World Challenge Touring Car season with a win and a second place in St. Petersburg with American Lawson Aschenbach behind he wheel of the No. 71 Honda Civic Si Coupe. ... According to the bosses at the American Le Mans Series their internet only webcast of the American Le Mans Series 12 Hours of Sebring set a viewership record for the event. I confess that I don’t know how they count these things but watching a major sports car race on a computer is not my idea for making ALMS accessible to fans. ... Rick Ware Racing has fired Jeffrey Earnhardt from his full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team after discovering the grandson of Dale Earnhardt was soliciting other teams for a new contract. “We have been informed by several team owners that our driver and his management company have been shopping around for another team, alluding that sponsorship was coming with them,” owner Rick Ware said.