By Patrick Reynolds
Martinsville, VA- Kevin Harvick led close to every lap in winning Martinsville’s Truck Series race. As a matter of fact, he only gave up the lead when he wanted to.
The Cup regular won the pole position earlier in the day and jumped out to an early lead.
Ty Dillon led laps five and six when Harvick slowed to let his Richard Childress Racing teammate out front and grab a championship bonus point. Dillon returned the courtesy and allowed Harvick back to the front on lap seven.
That was the last time Harvick did not hold the point as he ended the day leading a series record 248 0f 250 laps.
“Ty and myself working together on the restarts to make sure we were doing everything we could do to help him position himself to race for the championship” Harvick said of the lead swap and his strategy for the day.
Dillon said, “The plan was to get our cars out front and in a line, so we could let them (Harvick’s team) do what they were able to do. They were really fast and it definitely showed.”
Harvick built nearly a straightaway lead by lap 50. Following the first round of stops on lap 76, Dillon was able to keep Harvick in sight, but not offer a strong challenge. Harvick’s second and final stop took place on lap 160 and cruised to what looked like an easy victory.
“This is the truck myself or (Ron) Hornaday raced last year,” said Harvick about his winning chassis. “They (RCR) took it to their shop and did a lot of updates to it and it was better.”
“There were definitely points where we had to save the brakes. After that first long run running through traffic the brakes went to the floor. So I had to do everything I could to conserve. But, I had a good enough truck that these guys gave me to be able to let off early and not use the brakes and save the tires up off (the corners),” said Harvick about his winning chassis.
After the race, Harvick’s crew chief Marcus Richmond said, “When I started there (RCR), we (crew chiefs) all sat down and put a set up together to come here to Martinsville. It was really good to just unload that fast. We went through some changes in practice. Got it even a little bit better on a long run. It just says a lot for everybody in RCR and the Truck shop. They really worked hard this winter.”
The series win was the first for Harvick and Childress together. Said Harvick, “Nine times out of ten when you have trucks like this, or cars, and you have a day like that where you think, by far, you are the fastest, usually they never work out. Today was a special day. To win the pole, lead the most laps, and win the race is something you don’t do very often, so we are pretty happy for everybody.”
Saturday Martinsville Notes
- Overnight and morning rain delayed the start of track activities. Both Cup and Truck qualifying sessions were completed and the Truck green flag pushed back from 1:47 to 2:02pm.
- Kevin Harvick won the Truck Series pole position and was mentioned as being one of the stronger Trucks on Saturday morning by competing crewmembers. Harvick led the first Series practice on Friday and was 10th in the second. His history of performance at Martinsville Speedway reflects that, yet this is first pole at the track. Harvick backed that up with a second place time trial run in the Cup Series.
- Kasey Kahne claimed the pole for Sunday’s 500, with an effort that the team is hopeful will turn around their disappointing start to 2012. Forty-six cars made qualifying attempts with Scott Speed, Mike Bliss, and Tony Raines missing the lineup.
- Jeff Gordon led both Friday Cup practice sessions but could only muster a ninth place qualifying time.
- Daytona’s underdog Truck Series winner John King finished ninth and holds a one-point lead over Timothy Peters.
- The small amount of questions from the media to the winning team prompted the moderator to say, “Guys I think you just wowed them so much, these folks are speechless.”
- The Truck race featured previous Motor Week LIVE! guests Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter, King, Dakoda Armstrong, and Monday’s guest Jeb Burton.