JR Motorsports Race Report
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Race 5 of 33: TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway
Track Specs: 2-mile D-shaped oval / 150 laps
Weather: Sunny, 70 degrees
Race Winner: Kyle Larson
Harvick’s Finish: 2nd
There are good races and there are great races. Saturday’s TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway will go down as a great race that saw three drivers pushing their cars to the limit for the victory. Kevin Harvick happened to be one of those drivers, along with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch, waging an intense tussle in the final 10 laps. For the No. 5 TaxSlayer.com team, the result was second, marking Harvick’s third top-three finish in as many NASCAR Nationwide Series starts this season.
The California-native wasted literally no time showcasing his car’s strength as he whipped his red and black Chevrolet around the top lane moving from sixth to first on the opening lap. He then settled into third for much of the first half of the race behind Busch and Joey Logano.
In the latter stages of the race, Harvick’s running position stabilized between third and fifth as he fought a loose-handling race car. While Logano and Larson battled for the lead, Harvick sat several seconds behind in third until the race’s final caution at lap 130 brought everyone to pit road for a final time.
A blazing-fast pit stop by Harvick’s crew gave him the lead for a restart with only 16 laps to go. Harvick relinquished the top spot to Larson on the initial lap after the green flag, but quickly found his groove in third. As Larson tried to hold off Busch’s hard-charging No. 54 car, Harvick began to gain on both drivers. Through a series of passes and subsequent cross-over moves, Harvick and Busch continued to fight each other without losing time to Larson.
In the end, Larson was able to fend off Harvick at the checkered flag by 0.342 seconds with Busch third, Logano fourth and Elliott Sadler rounding out the top five.
Kevin Harvick, driver No. 5 TaxSlayer.com team
“That was a lot of fun there at the end. My car was really good in (turns) three and four. I needed to be able to run my own line to get away from those guys. I felt like we were a little bit better, but I never could (get by). I’d get tight in (turns) one and two, and then what I’d lose, I’d make up down here (in turns three and four). I’d rather win, but when you’re involved in a race like that, you can’t be too disappointed.”