Harvick brightest of All-Stars
By Times Wires
Published May 20, 2007
CONCORD, N.C. - Kevin Harvick earned another $1-million payday Saturday night, winning the Nextel All-Star Challenge after Matt Kenseth got caught speeding and brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch took each other out of contention.
That made Jimmie Johnson, a two-time All-Star race winner, the last driver for Harvick to contend with.
But Johnson barely mounted a challenge, staying in line behind Harvick until the final lap at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Johnson made one attempt at a pass, Harvick blocked it, then drove off to his second win of the season.
Harvick's other victory was a jackpot as well - he earned $1.5-million for winning the season-opening Daytona 500.
"To win a Daytona 500 and the All-Star race, that's pretty cool, " Harvick said in Victory Lane.
Harvick, who was second to Johnson last season, scored his first All-Star victory in seven tries and gave car owner Richard Childress his first win in the nonpoints event since Dale Earnhardt in 1993.
"You are the man, " Childress said over the radio to Harvick.
Mark Martin finished third and was followed by Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, Johnny Sauter and Kenseth. Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex, who got into the race by winning the Nextel Open, rounded out the top 10.
Kenseth had the field covered, leading 37 laps and winning the first and third segments. But he was flagged for speeding off pit road as he tried to beat Jeff Gordon out after the last stop.
"I got so busy with those other cars, I looked down and I was 200 (rpm) over, " Kenseth said.
The All-Star race is usually good for some drama, and it came 18 laps from the finish when brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch wrecked each other.
Kyle Busch, who led 23 laps over the first three segments, was trying to pass his older brother on the outside when Kurt Busch drifted down and the two made contact. Kurt Busch surged ahead, Kyle Busch spun, tapped his brother, and both cars bounced off the wall.
"I was waiting for the day when we got together, and we did, and we were racing for a million bucks, " Kurt Busch said. "That was a bummer, to have my little brother pull that move on me. Maybe I should have given an inch instead of taking an inch from him, but hey, that's what the All-Star race is all about. We'll see what we can do to discuss it, but right now I'm not eating any Kellogg's (Kyle's sponsor) anytime soon."
While Kyle Busch was back in the garage, things fell apart for mighty Hendrick Motorsports.
Winners of eight of the past nine points races, Hendrick saw three of its four cars fall out of contention in minutes. Gordon got a flat tire to fall off the pace, then Casey Mears and Denny Hamlin made contact to bring out the third caution of the race.
It left Johnson, the defending winner, as Hendrick's only hope. He was in third after the Busch brothers wrecked and wasted little time getting to second while Martin went to third.
It stayed that way for several laps, as neither Johnson nor Harvick stepped out of line. Only when Harvick appeared to have it in the bag did Johnson make his move.
"I kept chasing him on the bottom, trying to force him to make a mistake, but he drove a solid race, " Johnson said. "On the last lap, I thought, 'I've got a cushion behind me, let me just try it.' After 1 and 2, I got right to the 29's bumper and I was like, 'Why didn't I try that a lot sooner?' But that's racing."
. NEXTEL CUP
The Chase for the Championship standings after 11 of 36 races:
Driver Pts. Back
Jeff Gordon 1, 881 -
Jimmie Johnson 1, 650 231
Matt Kenseth 1, 582 299
Denny Hamlin 1, 539 342
Jeff Burton 1, 486 395
Tony Stewart 1, 375 506
Kurt Busch 1, 325 556
Kevin Harvick 1, 315 566
Clint Bowyer 1, 302 579
Carl Edwards 1, 291 590
Kyle Busch 1, 281 600
Jamie McMurray 1, 214 667
5 p.m. May 27, Coca-Cola 600, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C. TV: Ch. 13