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August 14, 2006

 

Harvick overtakes Stewart late for Glen victory

race

The Associated Press
NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick (29) stays in front of Tony Stewart in Turn 11 during the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series AMD at the Glen auto race at Watkins Glen Sunday. Harvick won and Stewart finished in second place.

By JOHN KEKIS
AP Sports Writer

WATKINS GLEN — Kevin Harvick hasn’t had the results Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have had on NASCAR’s road courses. That may be about to change.
Running in the top 10 from the start of the race Sunday at Watkins Glen International, Harvick did what few thought was possible: He passed Stewart for the lead with three laps to go and won his first road race.
“I was taught to never give up, and that’s kind of the attitude that I work in — never quit and just roll over,” said Harvick, who climbed past teammate Jeff Burton into third in the points. “I think it probably surprised everybody else that we were able to drive back by and win.”
Since Stewart had won three of the four previous Cup races at The Glen and passed the No. 29 Goodwrench Chevy a few laps earlier, Harvick probably was right about his second victory of the year driving for resurgent Richard Childress Racing.
“I knew I was only going to have a couple of chances, so I took my chance, it stuck, and I went on by,” said Harvick, who ranks third among active drivers at Watkins Glen with an average finish of eighth in six starts.
His winning pass was made coming out of the final curve of the 11-turn layout. Harvick outbraked Stewart through the hard right-hander, edged past on the front straightaway and completed the pass entering the first turn, a 90-degree right-hander. He then pulled away over the final laps.
“I think I just overdrove the entries and exits, and he was good,” said Stewart, who moved up two spots to seventh in the points race.
The race was polesitter Kurt Busch’s to lose, and his crew lost it for him. Just past midway of the 90-lap race, Joe Nemechek spun off course and brought out a caution for debris and Busch, following his crew’s instructions, began to head for the pit entrance for tires and fuel. But just as his front tires were about to cross the commitment line, the green light turned red, signaling the pits were closed.
Unable to veer back onto the track, Busch made his stop, then was penalized and sent to the rear of the field on the restart as crew chief Roy McCauley kicked a tire in frustration. The same thing happened here to Jeff Gordon a year ago, and he suffered, too.
“Kurt, I don’t know what to say. I’m about in tears,” McCauley said over the radio. “I’m sorry, Kurt.”
“I think I’m OK,” Busch said.
He was, but not for long. Seconds after the race restarted, Busch was caught in a multicar crash. Busch’s No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge sustained front-end damage, and his chances for victory vanished.
“We put ourselves in position for NASCAR to make a call, and it didn’t end up in our favor,” said Busch, who rallied into the top 10 again but spun out on the final lap and finished 19th.
The top 10 drivers in the standings qualify for the 10-race Chase for the championship. And Busch, 13th and fighting for the last spot with Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr., appeared set to make a big jump. Although Busch moved up to 12th, he dropped 172 points behind Earnhardt, who remained 10th after an 18th-place finish.
The top 10 will be reset in four weeks — after the 26th race of the season — into five-point intervals, and those 10 drivers will race for the Nextel Cup title over the final 10 races of the season.
Busch, fresh from his stirring victory over Robby Gordon in Saturday’s Busch Series race, was the class of the field from the start, leading 36 of the first 53 laps after surviving a hard bump from Kahne on the first turn of the race.
Neither Jeff Gordon, Stewart, nor Robby Gordon, who combined to win 16 of the previous 18 races on NASCAR’s two road courses, had anything for Busch in the first half of the 220.5-mile race.
“You feel for Kurt today,” Stewart said. “He had a car that was capable of winning the race. That’s absolutely rotten, terrible luck right there.”
Harvick, who pitted just before the race-changing caution, gained the lead when Stewart and the rest of the leaders pitted the next time around.
“You’re gambling on the caution,” said Todd Berrier, Harvick’s crew chief. “That’s all you’re doing. We would have liked to have stopped sooner, but the way the race had been going, all the cautions, we stuck to the plan. More times than not, it don’t work when you stick to the plan.
“As soon as the caution came out, it put us in the top three,” Berrier said. “Stewart and Robby and all those guys got back in the pack and it took them a long time to get back up there.”
Stewart had been unable to catch Harvick during the previous green-flag run. But when Casey Mears spun out to bring out a caution with 11 laps left, it gave Stewart a chance.
Harvick, making his 200th career start, got away on the restart. But Stewart caught him entering the chicane and, when Harvick blocked inside, drove by hard on the outside, going a little off course through the grass and easily took the top spot.
Seconds later, the 10th caution of the race, a record for the event, to set up a five-lap shootout and Harvick prevailed.
“We’ve got the talent, I think, to make a serious run for this championship,” Childress said.

 

 

White Sox back in Central race

By The Associated Press
All of a sudden, the Chicago White Sox are chasing more than a wild-card berth.
The World Series champions played like serious AL Central challengers, with Freddy Garcia pitching the White Sox past the slumping Detroit Tigers 7-3 on Sunday for a three-game sweep.
Down by 10 games in the division last Monday, Chicago pulled within 5 1/2 games of the first-place Tigers. With their sold-out crowd chanting, “Sweep! Sweep!” the White Sox won their fourth in a row.
“We’re going to keep fighting to the end, whether it’s in a ballgame or whether it’s in a pennant race,” said Jermaine Dye, who hit his 31st home run.
Detroit still has the best record in the majors. But the Tigers also have their longest losing streak of the season at five.
“We got what we deserved this weekend,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Red Sox 11, Orioles 9: Mike Lowell hit a grand slam in the first inning and made a nifty play for the final out to help Boston finish off a three-game sweep.
Red Sox star Manny Ramirez had his hitting streak end at 27 games. He might’ve been credited with an infield single, but he jogged down the line on a squibber that pitcher Todd Williams bobbled and threw away.
Angels 5, Yankees 3: Rookie Jered Weaver improved to 8-0 as Los Angeles again handled New York.
The Angels are 4-2 this season against the AL East leaders. And at 53-50, they’re the only team to hold a winning edge over the Yankees since Joe Torre became their manager in 1996.
Athletics 3, Devil Rays: Eric Chavez hit his first homer in nearly a month and the Athletics held their lead in the AL West.
Esteban Loaiza (6-7) pitched eight strong innings as the A’s won for the ninth time in 10 games. Tampa Bay lost its sixth in a row.
Indians 13, Royals 0: Travis Hafner hit his sixth grand slam — tying the single-season record set by Don Mattingly in 1987 — and the Indians scored 11 times in the first inning.
The first 10 Indians to bat all scored against Luke Hudson (5-4). Hafner highlighted the burst with his 35th homer.
Twins 5, Blue Jays 0: Brad Radke pitched seven sharp innings and Minnesota ended its three-game losing streak.
Radke (12-8) gave up only five hits despite recent soreness in his right shoulder. Michael Cuddyer homered and Jason Tyner had three hits for the Twins, who had lost five straight at home.
Shaun Marcum (1-2) lost in his fifth career start.
Rangers 10, Mariners 6: Michael Young hit a tie-breaking two-run triple, Gary Matthews Jr. drove in three runs and the Rangers completed a four-game sweep.
Carlos Lee also drove in three runs for Texas, which won its fifth straight and remain five games behind division-leading Oakland in the AL West. The Rangers have scored 51 runs during their winning streak.