Kevin Harvick put a rare off weekend from Sprint Cup racing to good use.
After finishing second in Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway, Harvick returned to the track Saturday afternoon and sprinted to a narrow win over Reed Sorenson in the Nashville 300 Nationwide Series race.
“It’s good to come in on an off week and be able to win a guitar in Nashville,” Harvick said of the track’s victory prize. “It’s pretty cool.”
Harvick’s team used a two-tire pit stop to put him on the track in the lead following the last round of stops, and that made the difference. The last green fell with 30 laps to go, and Harvick stayed in front the rest of the way.
Sorenson charged from fourth to challenge Harvick over the closing miles but didn’t have the power to pass.
“I thought the track position was going to pay off for us,” Harvick said. “You don’t know until you put the tires on. But we were able to get out there just far enough and do what we had to do.”
Following Harvick and Sorenson were Kyle Busch, Justin Allgaier, Brad Keselowski and series point leader Carl Edwards.
The race was marked by aggressive driving, a five-car smashup that caused a 14-minute red flag and some on-track retaliation that led NASCAR to park Jason Leffler.
On lap 43, James Buescher drifted up the track and clipped Leffler, sending Leffler into the wall.
After repairs, Leffler returned to the track and, near the race’s halfway point, drove up the banking and pinned Buescher against the wall, apparently in retaliation for the previous crash.
“My car was torn up and hard to handle,” Leffler said. “It just took off on me.”
NASCAR took a sterner view of the second crash and immediately parked Leffler for aggressive driving.
Buescher said he did not hit Leffler intentionally in the first incident.
A grinding mid-race crash involved the cars of Jason Keller, Steve Wallace, Michael McDowell, Colin Braun and Mikey Kile. Traffic was four-wide across the track at the moment of the accident.
NASCAR red-flagged the race for 14 minutes to clear the track of fluids and debris.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEEDtv.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.