Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Harvick Cleans Up Quite Well; Temperamental Driver Keeps His Cool, Passes Stewart for Victory

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Harvick Cleans Up Quite Well; Temperamental Driver Keeps His Cool, Passes Stewart for Victory

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The two coolest drivers at a road course race-turned-demolition derby at Watkins Glen International were two drivers known for their fiery temperaments.

Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart, both known to have short fuses, were calm in a day of crashes in the AMD at the Glen, and that allowed them to finish first and second.

There were a record 10 cautions in the 90-lap race on the 2.45-mile road course. Harvick and Stewart were not involved in any of them.

Harvick won with a dramatic pass with three laps to go. That came five laps after Stewart made a daring pass for the lead. Neither driver backed down, but both gave each other enough room -- if only a couple inches -- to keep the finish from being a slugfest.

Even in defeat, Stewart was the first to congratulate Harvick on the hard-fought -- but clean -- victory.

"To beat Tony, who everyone knows is a good friend of mine, makes this special," Harvick said. "I got more aggressive. I was always taught to never give up, not to roll over. I knew I could win the race. Tony wasn't going to say, 'That's it.' I'm sure it was a surprise to some people that I got back around him."

Stewart wasn't surprised. He was impressed.

"It's fun racing guys like that," Stewart said. "It's fun to race with someone you can trust."

Harvick's victory put a dent in the domination held by Stewart and Jeff Gordon on the two road courses in Nextel Cup Series racing. Those two had combined to win 14 of the previous 18 races on tracks that require right-hand turns. Stewart said he was satisfied with second, while Gordon was one of the many victims of reckless driving. He was running sixth when he was knocked off course by Mark Martin, dropping him back to a 13th-place finish.

Even with all the crashes and spins, Harvick stayed out of trouble. He led for 28 laps, including all but the four Stewart led in the final 32 circuits.

"This Chevrolet was a lot of fun to drive today," Harvick said. "We got the fenders caved in early, but we came back. I knew my only shot [to pass Stewart] was getting into [Turn] 1. It seemed like his brakes were giving up. I only had a couple chances, and I took my chance there.

"This means a lot, a road-course win. It takes driver and team. To be able to race each other was a lot of fun. Both of us have big pictures [the Chase for the Championship] in mind. I think we can win [the championship]."

Jamie McMurray finished in third, watching the battle between Harvick and Stewart and knowing his only hope was for both of them to wreck.

Pole sitter Kurt Busch led 39 of the first 54 laps and had no trouble keeping his Dodge out front. But he was the victim of bad timing and an incredible decision by NASCAR that dropped him out of contention.

Busch was approaching pit road on Lap 54 when the caution flag waved for Joe Nemechek's spin. …

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