Kevin Harvick fired a warning shot to his Sprint Cup competitors with a dominant victory in the Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series race at the Martinsville paperclip. Harvick, 36, led a record 248 laps aboard his no.2 Tide Richard Childress Chevrolet Silverado and was comfortably able to hold off team-mate Ty Dillon, younger brother of last year’s Truck championAustin, after a late restart, duly collecting the trademark Martinsville grandfather clock for his efforts.
James Buescher, who won in a cameo appearance in the Nationwide Series at Daytona, was third for Turner Motosports, ahead of Justin Lofton, Timothy Peters and Nelson Piquet Jr, while John King retained the championship lead with a top-10 finish. Jeb Burton, the son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward, was an elated 13th on his NASCAR debut.
For Harvick, this was vindication that he had made the right choice in selling off his truck team to Childress over the off-season, a move which he believes has not only benefitted himself, but the operation as a whole.
“I said to Richard when he leaned in the window, 'Why did I ever start a race team?'” Harvick said. “Can you imagine how many wins we would have if we’d never done that?”
Today, Harvick will start second in his 400th appearance in Cup since replacing the late great Dale Earnhardt Sr. at RCR in 2001. Childress says he has matured greatly in that time, and finally reckons that 'Happy Harvick' is ready to win a championship.
“All of us have matured; he’s no different than anybody else,” Childress said. “He understands the sport better, and the more you’re around it – like him – you just learn a lot of different things about it.
“I’m just really proud of what he’s done and where he’s at. I just want to be there when he wins that championship.”