Harvik Happy At Chicagoland USG Durock 300

It was a gorgeous summer day to put on a race in suburban Chicago, and that is what the good folks at Chicagoland Speedway did Saturday for approximately 75,000 fans. Under sunny skies and temperatures in the 80?s, the USG Durock 300 NASCAR Busch race was won by Kevin Harvik who won his fourth race at Chicagoland Speedway and becoming the first repeat Busch Series winner.

After a short delay due to a fuel leak that lit a fire down the backstretch, the field took the green flag with Denny Hamlin in his Rockwell Automation Joe Gibbs Chevrolet on the pole. Hamlin won the pole with a speed of 179.503 mph on the mile and half oval. After completion of lap one, it was Hamlin retaining the lead as Carl Edwards, Casey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola followed.

On lap 3, Ryan Newman got loose in his #12 Kodak Penske Racing Dodge and hit the turn 1 wall hard with his left rear of his car causing heavy damage. Newman was able to return to the pits but was done for the day.

The green flag came back out on lap 7 with Hamlin retaining the lead over Edwards. Casey Mears had a nice jump on the restart passing 4-5 cars on the outside lane bringing himself up to fourth place. Edwards hustled passed Hamlin to take to the lead on lap 8, leading the next 25 circuits until lap 32. One car on the move was Matt Kenseth in the Arby?s Roush Racing Ford #17 Ford who got quicker during the long green flag periods.

Hamlin took back the lead on lap 33. By lap 40 Hamlin led with Kenseth, Edwards, Busch and Burton following. Those five were all within 1.5 seconds and paced the field pulling away from the rest of the pack. Kenseth eventually took over the lead on lap 48 and paced the field for the next 13 circuits.

Green flag pit stops began in earnest on lap 59 as many of the lapped cars starting to come in. However on lap 62 Edwards who took over he lead as others pitted missed pit road himself. Edwards came in the following lap.

Kyle Busch worked his way to the front on lap 68. Busch looked strong all day running in the top-5. After Busch led for 14 laps, Jeff Burton took over the lead after a yellow flag for debris after lap 81. Burton?s lead lasted for 20 laps until lap 101.

Jeff Burton, Amirola and Todd Kluever took turns leading as green flag stops cycled through. Several of the drivers started to commented on their radios about the windy conditions as the race went on. The wind blew paper debris around the track in turn four. Burton?s lead lasted for 20 laps until lap 101. Busch and Burton would exchange the lead multiple times until lap 173.

On lap 145 Brent Sherman went for a wild ride after he had a tire come apart coming down the backstretch. Sherman?s car spun several time, the rear of his car lifting slightly on one of his pirouettes then impacting the wall with the front of his car.

Lap 152 saw Jamie McMurray doing a lawn job on the front stretch as he spun his Yard-man Ford causing the yellow to come out for 3 laps.

On Lap 165 Aric Almirola who was having a miserable day laps down spun coming out of turn two. When yellow flag pit stops began, second place Jeff Burton faked his move to pit lane and leader Kyle Busch came in giving Burton the lead, Busch restarted 8th. When the green flag returned on lap 170 it was Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvik, Kenseth and Paul Menard in the top-5.

Kevin Harvik made a strong move to pass Burton on the front straight on lap 173. Lap 177 Carl Edward had to make a green flag pit stop due to a loose wheel. . Compounding his problems was Edwards having to serve a pass-through penalty under green for having crewman on right side of car when leaving the pitbox. ?We had a great car and a great run going, and had a loose wheel there at the end ? there might?ve been a problem with the wheel or something ? and we had to come in. And then we suffered a pit-road penalty in that process and then we came in again, and we finished 20th. But, the car was a lot better than that. It was still fun to drive, just frustrating.? Edwards said in a post-race interview.

Harvik wasn?t threatened the rest of the race and easily held off Kenseth and Burton for his 29th Busch Series win. Harvik?s margin of victory was just over one second (1.012 sec). Clint Bowyer ended up 4th as Kyle Busch after making the late pit stop ended up fifth. After a disappointing practice and qualifying sessions, Harvik and his Shane Wilson led crew worked on the set-up and worked their way to the front. The race was under in just over two hours (2 hrs, 12 min 41 sec). There were six yellow flags for 22 laps. 14 lead changes among 8 drivers.

Kenseth was satisfied with his finish, ?I thought it was a good race, there wasn?t a lot of wrecks. It was a lot of green flag racing, so I thought that made it interesting. We were really good on the long runs. We weren?t really good on a short run. We were usally too loose.

Stephen Leight (citifinancial Ford Fusion #90) had a good run finishing first in class (non Cup Series regular) in 10th place. Leight remarked, ?I?m so proud of my team, they fought back all day long. Had a couple of troubles go wrong with the motor and overheating, and getting behind on the race track. To have all those problems and still come out with a top-10 with all these Cup drivers here, I?d say that?s a great day.?

Top finishing rookie was Brad Keselowski in his maiden drive in the JR Motorsports U.S. Navy Chevrolet #88. ?This is exactly what I was hoping for. Keselowski remarked. ?Being realistic, first time together, new group with Wes Ward and Tony Eury, Sr. it?s a great group of guys and we?re starting to build that communication. Every lap we get and every time we talk we just keep building communication and that?s why we got better at the end of the race.?

This was Jeff Burton?s fifth Busch Series race at Chicagoland and has finished third three times.

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