In a wild night of racing at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, 2010 Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick raced to his second win of the season. Daytona has been a kind track to Harvick. He has eight top-10 finishes, including his win in the 2007 Daytona 500. Following the race, he received high praise from the Richard Childress Racing team owner.
“Kevin’s just becoming one of these guys, when it’s restrictor-plate racing, he’s kind of like Dale Sr. — you knew he was going to be a factor in it,” Childress said.
Harvick took over Earnhardt’s team after the Intimidator lost his life in an accident that occurred in the 2001 Daytona 500. Harvick, along with teammates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton, seemed set to run away with the race before a few late cautions interfered. Bowyer took the white flag just moments before a three-car accident set up NASCAR’s version of overtime.
In the final two-lap sprint, Harvick and Bowyer had to restart side-by-side. Harvick quickly jumped out into the lead and Bowyer got a little assistance from behind as Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon exchanged spots on the restart. That left Bowyer all by himself, but eventually he spun off the track and this sent Harvick racing to the checkered flag.
“That really wasn’t the situation that we wanted to be in,” said Harvick. “I wanted to be behind him and be able to push him because it was looking pretty good for us, then that caution came out and we had to split up because of the double-file restarts. I helped him as much as I could, then we got split up and [Kahne and Gordon] split [Bowyer] and then that was it.”
The win is Harvick’s second of the season, including his victory at Talladega in April. Kahne finished second on Saturday night and was followed by Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Burton. Earnhardt did not race well on Saturday but sneaked into the top-five. More importantly, his finish put him in eleventh place in the points standings for the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Harvick now holds a 212 point lead over Gordon in the points standings. Gordon had this to say about how NASCAR races are shaping up.
“I’m starting to get used to the fact that every race we go to is basically bumper cars at 190 mph,” Gordon said. “When it comes down to the end, you pretty much know that it’s not going to end like that, that you’re going to have cautions and double-file restarts. It’s just hold on tight.”