"The Closer" looked like himself again. Too many times this season Harvick had a car capable of at least a top five finish. Too many times he and his team took that car and faded during the last run of the race to a finish outside the top ten. But not this week. This time Harvick lived up to his nickname. He went from seventh to first in one green-white-checkered to score the victory.
Harvick took tires with about 40 laps to go. He vacated his second-place position at the time because he and his team believed fresh tires were that important. They were right. Harvick went from 11th to second and was closing in on leader Juan Pablo Montoya before he encountered a lapped Kyle Busch. Busch raced Harvick hard with about 11 laps remaining and it looked like it would cost Harvick the chance at catching and passing Montoya if the race stayed green.
But it didn't. The caution came out with four laps remaining when Brian Vickers spun out in turn four. Montoya and Harvick pit, as did most of the other lead lap cars. Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray and A.J. Allmendinger stayed out. Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards took two tires and beat Montoya and Harvick off pit road.
But Harvick was able to pass all of them in one lap and take the win. It was an impressive and dramatic victory for Harvick who has won many races like that in the past. Harvick led only three laps on Saturday night. In six of Harvick's last 10 wins he led no more than 16 laps. In five of those races he led less than 10 laps. In the 2011 Auto Club 400 in California he led only one lap.
Last week I wrote that Harvick needed to turn things around immediately. He must have listened.
Juan Pablo Montoya
Saturday night was quite possibly the best performance on an oval of Juan Pablo Montoya's NASCAR career. Yes, I think it was even better than his performance in the 2009 Brickyard 400.
Montoya led 67 laps on Saturday night. Many of them came late in the race. He held off Kurt Busch and it appeared that he was going to hold off Harvick had the caution not come out. He made quick work of lapped traffic and managed his tires well. It appeared that Montoya was finally going to get his first win on an oval.
But the caution came out late when Vickers spun out. Montoya had to pit for tires and give up the lead. There was no way he could hold off anybody who pit for fresh tires. He came off pit road in sixth and had to restart on the outside. Should he have been in Harvick's position, maybe he would have won, but it's hard to tell.
Montoya and the whole 42 team should be proud though. They've had troubles for the last couple of years, but on Saturday night they were finally in a position to win again. That whole team should hold their heads high this week. Especially Montoya.
Nelson Piquet Jr.
If you didn't see what happened after Friday night's Nationwide Series race, all you need to know is that Nelson Piquet Jr. tried to kick Brian Scott where the sun doesn't shine. You read that correctly. Piquet tried to kick Scott in the groin.
I've been a fan of Piquet's since he came over to NASCAR from Formula One. But there's one rule that men have to live by in this world. And that one rule is that one man does not hit another man in his private section. You just don't do it. But that's what Piquet tried to do. This isn't the first time a Piquet tried to kick another man there. His dad tried to do the same to Eliseo Salazar in 1982.
Scott was pretty cool about it though. He took to Twitter and made some jokes. He tweeted to Simpson and asked if they could sew an athletic cup into his fire suit. He tweeted to Nationwide Insurance and asked if they insured "the family jewels."
Piquet took to Twitter as well during Saturday night's Cup race and said that he was just defending himself. He said he did not intend to break the code. And then he said "no wonder I race cars and not play soccer."
But the incident didn't just end on pit road on Friday night. A couple Richard Childress Racing crew members decided to defend their driver and allegedly tried to assault Piquet in the RV lot after the race. One of Piquet's crew members hurt his shoulder and the two crew members were arrested.
I'm not advocating that in any way, shape, or form, but short track racing brings drama, anger, and intensity. NASCAR needs more of it. I'll leave you with that.