Kevin Harvick wins the black hat again at Texas

Credit Skirts and Scuffs 
Texans treasure tradition, and Kevin Harvick winning the fall Nationwide race at Texas Motor Speedway is well on its way to becoming one. With his win in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Saturday night, Harvick led a race-high 127 laps and scored his fifth victory at the Great American Speedway. Interestingly enough, he's never won there in Cup.

Making his debut at TMS, Ryan Blaney came within 1.628 seconds of winning his first Nationwide Series race, but he ran out of time. The young driver credited his crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, with a good call late in the race. "We weren't the best early in the week but these guys hung in with me. We almost got there at the end, but just didn't really get clear of traffic soon enough."

Blaney also expressed satisfaction at having his childhood idol, third-place finisher and polesitter Kyle Busch, speak well of him after the race. "We look up to these Cup guys in the Nationwide Series. I've been a fan of Kyle for a very long time, and he's definitely one of the people that I look up to and as a rookie and a young kid when you see your idols congratulation you, that's pretty cool."

Busch said of his run, "We had a really good car, just, man, saw it in practice, the 33 (Harvick) was stellar. The guys worked really, really hard - can't say enough about them. We had a great run tonight. A solid run, a top five all night." Any potential for a flair-up of hostilities between the two rivals was never manifested, though Busch and Harvick raced each other hard throughout the 200 laps.

Almost overshadowing Blaney's performance, post-race drama developed between fourth-place finisher Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon, who evidently didn't give Hamlin enough racing room. Hamlin pushed against and eventually spun the No. 3 car, prompting Dillon's crew chief to make a pit road visit to Hamlin to express his displeasure at the torn-up race car. Hamlin's post-race interview was less than complimentary to Dillon, but the driver of the No. 11 did tweet an apology to Blaney, saying "Sorry to @ryanblaney22 who really deserved the attention..." Dillon finished sixth.

Kerry Tharp of NASCAR said the incident between Hamlin and Dillon likely wouldn't be subject to further review. He also reported that post-race inspection revealed no issues.

With his fourth-place finish, seven ahead of previous points leader Elliott Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tied the Championship points standings, though he holds the edge there because he has more wins than Sadler.

The slick track made for loose race cars and dramatic passes and slides, especially in the later laps. Though temperatures cooled after the sun set, the asphalt baked in unseasonably warm weather allowing for 11 lead changes among five drivers.

Top 10 in driver's points:

(1) R. Stenhouse Jr. 1,170;(2) E. Sadler 1,170;(3) A. Dillon # 1,149;(4) S. Hornish Jr. 1,075;(5) M. Annett 1,013;(6) J. Allgaier 1,010;(7) C. Whitt 945;(8) M. Bliss 846;(9) B. Scott 780;(10) D. Patrick 772.

Full finishing order:

1 33 Kevin Harvick
2 22 Ryan Blaney
3 54 Kyle Busch
4 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
5 18 Denny Hamlin
6 3 Austin Dillon *
7 12 Sam Hornish Jr.
8 31 Justin Allgaier
9 198 Kevin Swindell
10 20 Joey Logano
11 2 Elliott Sadler
12 88 Cole Whitt *
13 38 Brad Sweet *
14 7 Danica Patrick
15 199 Kenny Wallace
16 51 Jeremy Clements
17 43 Michael Annett
18 10 Mike Bliss
19 30 Ryan Newman
20 87 Joe Nemechek
21 14 Eric McClure
22 11 Brian Scott
23 124 David Starr
24 01 Mike Wallace
25 40 Erik Darnell
26 44 John Blankenship
27 23 Robert Richardson Jr.
28 4 Danny Efland
29 41 Juan Carlos Blum
30 19 Hal Martin Toyota
31 52 Joey Gase *
32 108 Scott Saunders
33 81 Jason Bowles *
34 03 Scott Riggs
35 39 Tim Andrews
36 70 Johanna Long
37 191 Jeff Green
38 100 Blake Koch
39 175 Kelly Bires
40 86 Kevin Lepage
41 47 J.J. Yeley
42 42 Josh Wise
43 50 T.J. Bell
Kevin Harvick wins the black hat again at Texas Kevin Harvick wins the black hat again at Texas Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Sunday, November 04, 2012 Rating: 5