Harvick Gets First Career Win

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  • CarQuest Auto Parts 250 Results

    Kevin Harvick led early, and when Todd Bodine could no longer hold the hammer down, Harvick led late...and no one could touch him. Harvick took his first series victory on his 21st start in the CarQuest Auto Parts 250 at Gateway International Raceway in a race that saw just two cautions in the first eleven laps. Harvick, the 1998 NASCAR Winston West Series champ, let his youth show as he celebrated wildly at the start/finish line filling the cheering stands with smoke fitting for a burnout at an NHRA Nationals event.

    "Man, I wish my dad were here tonight," said an emotional Harvick. "We had a chance to win the race last week and the caution came out.

    "I've been waiting a long time to do that (burnout)."

    What had been really sweet domination turned rather sour for Bodine when he made his final stop around Lap 170.

    He cycled back to the lead after the stop, and Harvick made a challenge.

    Bodine's car appeared to be extremely loose on the new tires and he slid up the track, opening the door for the rookie whose name nobody knew before the start of this 2000 season. Jeff Purvis got around Bodine several laps later.

    "That last set of tires didn't match up real well," said Bodine.

    "It was pushin' in loose."

    Purvis, Bodine, Jason Keller, Jeff Green, Ron Hornaday, Joe Nemechek, Kenny Wallace, Kyle Petty and Elton Sawyer rounded out the top-10.

    The first caution waved on Lap 2 as Jay Sauter made contact with Lyndon Amick, sending him around. The cars were running close so quicker than one can say "accident," there was a pileup in Turn 2.

    Ted Musgrave, Tom Hubert, Mike Wallace and Ken Schrader were involved. Schrader pulled into the garage and parked it. Amick stayed in the garage for repairs and finally returned to the track just before halfway.

    As usually happens, the yellow flew for the second time on Lap 11 as Mario Gosselin and Rich Bickle tangled and both were done for the night. Track cleanup and lots of 'kitty litter' made the restart on Lap 14 a little dusty as the cars got up to speed.

    Jeff Green was able to lead Lap 22, before Harvick reclaimed the point. Some 12 laps later, it was Keller feeling feisty enough to make a challenge. Keller and Harvick raced side-by-side for a pair of laps, with Keller on the low side. He got the nose of his #57 Excedrin Chevy out in front by a hair, but Harvick kept him pinched low in the turns which didn't allow for room to move up the track. Keller and Harvick made some contact, which loosened Keller's tires and teammate Green was right there to regain the second spot. Todd Bodine also made a pass and Keller backpedaled to fourth.

    Things got interesting as teams began the first round of green flag stops. David Green was leading as stops commenced. Just as he passed the entrance to pit road, his Chevy gasped for fuel and quit. By the time Green coasted all the way around to his pit stall, took on fuel and tires and got back out on track, he was two laps in arrears.

    Bodine, who re-inherited the lead when D.Green went dry, dropped in to pit sooner than expected because of his teammate's bad fortune. Then Jeff Green ran out of fuel. After taking on fuel, the crew had to push the #10 to get it restarted. Before all stops had cycled, Jason Schuler and Michael Ritch both had a chance to lead the field. Bodine reassumed the lead at Lap 95.

    For the next 80 plus circuits, Bodine cruised at top speeds in excess of 129 mph leaving the battle for position behind him. Kyle Petty, who started 34th on Owner Points, was shown in fifth place for a handful of laps. Purvis and LaJoie found their way around and Petty had to settle for seventh.

    Schuler provided a moment of breathtaking excitement with under 70 laps remaining when he drove the #17 Visine Chevy off Turn 4 and the car got squirrely. He did a great job of saving the car from certain damage and kept it off the outside wall, only losing one position to Hornaday.

    Tim Fedewa, running in the eighth spot, ran out of fuel with just eight laps remaining.
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