Kevin Harvick Becomes the First Multi-Race Winner in 2011

Junior and Harvick at Martinsville

Kwvin Harvick spoiled Dale Earnhardt Jr's bid to end a 98 race winless streak passing NASCAR's most popular driver with four laps to go at Martinsville (photo courtesy: John Harrelson, Getty Images Sport)

Last year Kevin Harvick recorded a third-place finish in the closest Sprint Cup Championship Chase in NASCAR history at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After scoring back-to-back wins, Harvick looks to be a serious Championship contender which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 2, but fans can lock in tickets today with just a $30 deposit. For ticket information, click [here] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Harvick was a forgotten player for a good portion of Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. But with a fast car and a bit of opportunity, Harvick was able to muscle his way past a surprisingly strong Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win his second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

“We just kept fighting. My guys told me I had a fast car but I didn’t believe it,” said Harvick. “I had a lot of fun racing with Dale Jr., and I hate to be the … bad guy here, but we’re in it to win it.”

Kyle Busch was dominant throughout the race and finished third, while Miami’s Juan Pablo Montoya (SEE SIDEBAR) and Jeff Gordon rounded out the Top 5.

A final caution, which appeared when Regan Smith spun in Turn 2, erased Busch’s advantage, and while Harvick restarted second, being trapped on the outside allowed Earnhardt Jr. and Montoya to slip underneath.

Earnhardt moved by Busch for the lead on lap 480 while Harvick began chipping away at Montoya. With seven laps remaining, he had overtaken both Montoya and Busch, and was clearly closing on Earnhardt Jr.

“We got out front and … just tried to put together good, solid laps and right around 10 to go, the rear started to go away and started to slip around a little bit on the braking and down through the center,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I was trying to back my corner up because I was wondering if I might be overdriving the car, which I'm sure I was.”

With four laps remaining, Harvick got his nose underneath Earnhardt Jr. in Turn 1, and by the time the pair raced out of the second turn, he had taken the position.

The victory moved Harvick to fifth in the Championship points standings. Busch, who led a race-high 151 laps, took over the points lead from Carl Edwards with his third-place finish. Edwards was a popular preseason pick to unseat five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson this fall when NASCAR crowns a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 2, but fans can lock in tickets today with just a $30 deposit. For ticket information, click [here] or call (866) 409-RACE.

“We had one of the best runs here we have ever had,” Busch said. “And I probably had the best car here today. Unfortunately just didn't win with it.”

Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Jimmie Johnson finished 11th and Denny Hamlin 12th. Last year’s Championship contenders at Homestead-Miami Speedway had combined to win the last nine Cup races at Martinsville. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 2, but fans can lock in tickets today with just a $30 deposit. For ticket information, click [here] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Texas on Saturday, April 9 (7 p.m. ET, Fox TV)—Race 7 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 18-20. The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2011 Sprint Cup Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 20.

Reason to Smile: Miami’s Montoya Scores Fourth Top 10 spot through Six Races

Happy Montoya at Martinsville

Last week, South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya looked poised to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series oval track race in Race 5 of 36 at Auto Club Speedway. Montoya started on the pole for his 150th career NASCAR race.

Fast forward to Martinsville: Montoya and the No. 42 Target Chevrolet, finished fourth and leaves Martinsville seventh in the standings. The solid Top 5 result is Montoya's fourth Top 10 finish after six races on the schedule.

"Yeah, we had a good day," said Montoya following the race. "Everybody did an amazing job. Good calls from the team and you know we looked good at the end."

The Colombian native-turned Miami resident has two Top 5, two Top 10 finishes and zero DNF’s at the .526-mile oval.  Montoya fell one position short of tying his career best finish at Martinsville. His best finish of third came in October of 2009. 

"We had a bad qualifying run, had a horrible lap," continued Montoya. "The short runs it was okay but we need a little more for that. I'm really excited to get a top five here."
  
Montoya’s 4th place finish finds him sitting seventh in the points standings—just two points behind Ryan Newman for sixth—in his Chase for a Sprint Cup Championship on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20.

Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 2, but fans can lock in tickets TODAY with just a $30 deposit. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Next up for Montoya and NASCAR’s best is Texas on Saturday, April 9 (7 pm ET, FOX TV)—Race 7 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekendat Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 18-20). The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2011 Sprint Cup Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 20.

Follow Montoya on Twitter:

@JPMontoya

Follow Homestead-Miami Speedway:

@HomesteadMiami

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