|'It's been a long time coming,' says Kevin Harvick, whose last NNS win came in this race. (Getty Images)|
RICHMOND, Va. -- Kevin Harvick took the lead by dodging a caution caused by race leader Kurt Busch, then pulled away on a restart with 17 laps to go and won the Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
The victory snapped a 30-race winless streak in the series for Harvick, whose last victory came in this race two years ago. It was his 38th career victory in the series, and sixth on the 0.75-mile D-shaped oval. He is tied with Carl Edwards for third in career victories in the series.
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"It's been a long time coming," Harvick said in Victory Lane. "I know the first 37 seemed a whole lot easier than No. 38."
As he had done for much of the race, Harvick pulled away as if he had an extra gear when the race went back to green on lap 234, leaving championship contender Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Busch to battle for second. Stenhouse won that battle easily.
"Kevin and I had a great battle there for a while. I gave it all I had," said Stenhouse, who won last weekend at Atlanta. "If we would have won two in a row, that would have been cool, but second's a great night."
Harvick, meanwhile, has led 396 laps in the last three Nationwide Series races.
"I think we've led more laps in this series in 10 races this year than anybody else who's run all year," Harvick said
The best finish, though, came from back in the field as points leader Elliott Sadler, who had dropped to 29th place and a lap down after crashing while running second late on lap 185, rallied to finish 12th and retained the points lead by one over Stenhouse.
Sadler, who confirmed Friday that he will not be with Richard Childress Racing in the Nationwide Series next season, had been dueling Stenhouse side by side for second place behind Harvick for several laps when Sadler, running on the inside, got loose and spun into the wall. He remained on the track, but eventually went a lap down and went from leading the points race to falling well behind.
The late rally regained him the points lead with eight races remaining.
"I made a big mistake. I got in there a little bit too loose under Ricky," said Sadler, from Emporia. "We were in good position to win the race. I just got a little bit too impatient, I got a little too hard in my head."
The race was costly for Sam Hornisch Jr., who started the night third in points, 32 behind, and was running in the top 10 when he got clipped from behind and slammed into the wall between turns 1 and 2. As his car was drifting to the bottom of the track, it got slammed again in the rear, sending debris flying all over the track and causing a red flag for about 4 minutes, and then an extended caution.
Hornisch limped back onto the track in the final laps, but finished 30th and is 50 points behind Sadler.
It also was a rough night for Danica Patrick, who lasted 142 laps and was running a lap behind the leaders before getting clipped and crashing in the frontstretch and heading to the garage. She eventually returned to the track, 32 laps down. She finished 29th.
Harvick led 141 laps with easily the dominant car in the field, especially on fresh tires. He routinely pulled away once the green flag flew, opening leads of several seconds that lasted until other cars started to reel him in as the green flag runs extended.
Lucky for him, the last burst was only for 17 laps, and when he quickly pulled away, he left the dueling in his rear-view mirror.