In The Hunt with RCR: Richmond gives Harvick Nationwide win, Chase berth

Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
RCR rocked Richmond this weekend with the Nationwide teams placing four teams in the top twelve including Kevin Harvick's win. In Sprint Cup racing, Harvick clinched his Chase spot and both he and Jeff Burton brought home top-10 finishes.

Nationwide Series 

If anyone thought Kevin Harvick was over last week's loss at Atlanta that notion was put to rest as he emphatically tossed a water bottle out the window of the No. 33 Armour Vienna Sausages Chevrolet while doing his celebratory doughnuts. He led the most laps in the Virginia 259 College Savings 250 and earned his first victory of the season.

"It’s been a great year for us in the NASCAR Nationwide Series car," Harvick stated. "I know we haven’t won the races that we needed to, but man have we led a ton of laps and been in contention to win just about every race this year. Sometimes you go through slumps like that, and when you break them, it just makes a win that much sweeter. Our team did an awesome job tonight, and it’s about time we finally got to celebrate in Victory Lane.”

Austin Dillon continues to lead the Sunoco Rookie of the Year race with a solid sixth place finish. Younger brother Ty Dillon made his third career NNS start and earned his third top-ten finish. While fighting for second place, Elliott Sadler lost control of the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevy and hit the wall. He fought back to finish 12th and hangs on to the points lead by a single point over  Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Sprint Cup Series

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy
Laps Led-0                   
Points- 19

Before the race I said I think it's time for Jeff Burton to hang up his helmet and retire. Then he goes out and runs up front all night long, looking for all the world like a legitimate contender for the win. Then Clint Bowyer, his former RCR teammate, flew by and everyone else was fighting for second. Burton's sixth-place finish doesn't convince me, as much as I love him, that he shouldn't consider his career options - after all, this was only his fifth top ten and he only led 35 laps and had just 12 lead-lap finishes so far this year. I hope the No. 31 team uses the 10 races of the Chase to regroup and prove me wrong.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevy
Start - 13                        
Finish - 10                           
Laps Led - 0s 
Points - 9 

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Though Kevin Harvick's Sprint Cup performance didn't match his Nationwide results for the weekend, he did actually run better than his 10th-place finish showed. The No. 29 ran as high as fourth late in the race and while Harvick still complained of handling issues, he seemed to have more confidence in Gil Martin's abilities to adjust on them.

Is Harvick peaking at the right time? He's one of only two drivers in the Chase lacking a win, but with his performance this weekend it could be just a matter of time before he scores his 19th career Cup win.

“We have been real competitive the last three weeks racing at the front of the pack. That is what we have to do." Harvick said. "Tonight we probably had a fourth-place car and thought it was going to rain there and didn’t rain. Then we just pitted because we knew that we didn’t want to wind up in the boat that all those other guys were on old tires there. All in all we took a chance there with the rain but we had a solid car and we have had a solid car the last three weeks.”

Paul Menard, No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet
Start – 25
Finish – 23
Laps Led – 0         
Points – 17

The No. 27 team began the night with a substitute crew chief. While RCR is appealing the suspension of car chief Craig Smokstad and engineer Grant Hutchens, they began the suspension of Slugger Labbe this weekend. Paul Menard worked with Shane Wilson to adjust the No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevy, but the handling issues that have plagued all the RCR Cup teams this season just didn't respond well enough to allow Menard to get anywhere near the front of the field.

Menard said, “We just couldn’t quite find the right adjustments tonight to help the Moen/Menards Chevrolet. We struggled with drive off and tightened the car up a little too much. It’s not the finish we hoped for, but these guys never gave up. This team has worked extremely hard all year and we were in contention again for a Wild Card berth in the Chase. We’ll continue to go to the track every weekend with the goal of getting a win.”*aqsx
In The Hunt with RCR: Richmond gives Harvick Nationwide win, Chase berth In The Hunt with RCR: Richmond gives Harvick Nationwide win, Chase berth Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Sunday, September 09, 2012 Rating: 5