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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hard-charging Kevin Harvick makes a point with impressive win over Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch

Ever since I’ve been watching him race, Kevin Harvick’s always kind of had a chip on his shoulder – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sure, at times he can be a little contentious and butt heads with other drivers, but it’s clear from interviews with Harvick that he’s quite annoyed when others – whether it be Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards or anyone else – is crowned as the “favorite” by the media to win the race or the title.
Harvick, like all great racers, thinks he’s the best, and he wants the media to recognize that.

The good news for him is that if he continues to put on performances like he did in Fontana this Sunday, we most certainly will.

As I watched most of the race Sunday, I was prepared to write about the usual snoozefest that you get out at California – with an equally snooze-worthy headline – another Kyle Busch victory (seriously, that guys wins way too much. I don’t even think wins get him excited anymore, he’s so used to it.)

But with a few laps to go, things got real interesting. There was an intense battle between Busch and Jimmie Johnson, which looked for a minute like it might get physical. Then, after Jimmie made the pass, he thought he was home-free – until Happy showed up.

And by ever so politely nudging past the five-time depending champion to take the win at Fontana, Harvick made a very big point without saying a word – last year’s title run was no fluke, and he’s ready to do it all again despite his shaky start in the first few races of 2011 leading up to California.

The “golden horseshoe” he joked about Johnson having in a certain place has now been transferred to Harvick, and he’s fine with that.
“I hope it stays right on up there. I'll be more than happy to go ahead and tote the thing along,” he said with a laugh after pulling out the thrilling win.

He said the win was long overdue, and his finishes in 2011 haven’t represented how well his team has been performing.

“We've had four weeks that we hadn't exactly had everything go right, but our cars have been fast. Today we had everything go right and our car was fast again. As long as we keep our cars running the way that they are, we can overcome things and we can hopefully capitalize on days when our car is fast enough to win.”

Now that he’s back up with the Chase contenders where he belongs, Harvick is hoping to start a hot streak of his own.

“Momentum never hurts. I always tell people, you have to take the highs and lows, treat them pretty much the same. Bottom line is, you can't ever shake off the confidence that winning gives you,” he said.

Jimmie: “That was racing”
Johnson said after the race that it was a clean pass by Harvick.
“I don't think he got into me all that hard. I actually put my head back against the headrest and thought it was going to be a lot harder than what it was,” Johnson said. “He did it well. He did his job. I didn't do my mine holding him off. That was racing. That's the cool thing about our cars, especially the way they're designed now. You can lean on each other at 190 and still make it back.

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