Thanks to fuel-saving technique and opportune late cautions, Kevin Harvick had enough gas to survive a green-white-checkered-flag finish in Sunday’s rain-delayed Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service 125 and win the Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway.
Harvick Dominates In Rain-Delayed Pocono Debut
07 Aug 2011 Reid Spencer
The victory was Harvick’s first in three starts in the series this year and the 10th of his career. Kyle Busch finished second, followed by James Buescher, points leader Johnny Sauter and Austin Dillon.
When the race went three laps beyond its scheduled distance of 50 laps, the only question was whether Harvick had enough fuel in his tank to go the extra 7.5 miles. There was no question about the quality of his ride.
“I didn’t have anything for Kevin,” said Buescher, who lost second place to Busch on Lap 46. “He was in a league of his own.”
Harvick didn’t come to the pits on Sunday, having changed tires for the last time on Lap 15 under caution for rain the day before. The race was suspended two laps later. Harvick said his truck was so strong that he didn’t want to sacrifice track position for fresh rubber.
“I think you saw the 18 (Busch) drive back up through there with tires,” Harvick said. “Tires still meant something. Our truck was just so fast that there was really no reason to give up the track position to come and get tires, since we were good on fuel.
“That’s one of the shortest races I’ve raced in a long time, and the strategy changes a little bit. You’ve got to get out there quick and try to put yourself in position quick on strategy, and you don’t have a lot of chances to make things happen if you’re off the pace.
“They (the team) just did a great job of hitting it right off the truck, and that makes life easy.”
NASCAR called the fourth caution of the race on Lap 32, after a smoking chunk of Nelson Piquet Jr.’s flat right front tire sheared off in the middle of the racing surface on the Long Pond straight.
The caution laps provided cover for those who might have been short on fuel—notably Harvick.
Nevertheless, Harvick, wary of the possibility of a green-white-checkered-flag finish, began shutting off his engine entering Turn 1 to save fuel. But a caution on Lap 37 for a wreck involving David Starr, Brendan Gaughan and Peyton Sellers necessitated the fifth caution and gave Harvick the cushion he needed to make it to the finish of the race.
On Lap 42, Sellers stalled on the access to pit road to cause the sixth caution. Harvick pulled away on the restart on Lap 46, while Busch and Buescher battled for the second position. Harvick held a comfortable advantage, when contact from Dillon’s Chevrolet sent Todd Bodine’s Toyota spinning on Lap 49 to send the race to overtime.