Kevin Harvick Wins the Virginia 529 College Savings 250
Sets record for most career NASCAR Nationwide Series victories at Richmond
By Dave Thompson
Richmond, VA (September 7, 2012) -- Kevin Harvick regained the lead on the final restart to win the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 on Friday night at Richmond International Raceway. The win was his first Nationwide victory in 2012 ending a 30-race Nationwide Series drought dating back to September 2010 at Richmond.
Harvick beat Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to the start/finish line by 1.944 seconds to win for the fifth time at Richmond International Raceway. Last week at Atlanta, it was Stenhouse Jr. that beat Harvick for the win. The victory was Harvick’s 38th NASCAR Nationwide Series win, tying him with Carl Edwards for the third on the all-time victory list.
Kurt Busch, who won this May race at Richmond, was strong again on Friday night finishing third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Annett.
Busch was the race leader at Lap 225, but lost the lead one lap later when he made contact with the rear bumper of Dexter Stacey, causing Stacey to spin on the frontstretch. Harvick avoided the wreck and barely edged ahead of Busch prior to NASCAR throwing the seventh caution of the race on Lap 227.
Harvick, who had the strongest car all night, led 141 laps and pulled away from the field when the green-flag waved on Lap 234. Stenhouse quickly grabbed second from Busch and set his sight on catching Harvick.
The battle for the series championship took an abrupt turn on Lap 186 when points leader Elliott Sadler and Stenhouse Jr. battled side-by-side for second position. The battle between the top two in the standings lasted nearly seven laps before Sadler appeared to move up on Stenhouse Jr. from the inside and broke loose forcing his Chevrolet into the outside wall, doing heavy damage to the rear deck.
Sadler went a lap down and restarted 28th when the green-flag waved on Lap 193. He battled back to finish 12th and maintained the top spot in the standings by one point over Stenhouse.
Sam Hornish Jr. championship hopes suffered a serious setback with just under 100 laps remaining. As Hornish Jr. maneuvered to avoid contact with Ty Dillon (driving the No. 51 Chevrolet) his No. 12 Penske Dodge instead made contact with teammate Ryan Blaney, driving the No. 22 Penske Dodge.
The prior contact to Hornish resulted in him cutting down a left-rear tire pushing him into the outside wall in Turn 1. Hornish Jr. slid back down the track into the oncoming car of the No. 41 Ford driven by Timmy Hill. The hard collision tore the rear deck off Hornish’s car and shredded the right-side of Hill’s car. The crash scattered debris throughout Turns 1and 2 forcing NASCAR to bring out the red-flag.
Hornish dropped to fourth in the standings, 50 points behind points leader Sadler.
Johanna Long, who qualified eight for the race, had an outstanding race through the first 110 laps before a right-front tire blew sending her into the wall. Early in the race, Long had passed Hamlin to take over fourth place briefly before falling back to fifth.
Darrell Wallace Jr., in just his third Nationwide Series race, finished in 10th-place behind the wheel of the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.