RICHMOND, Va. — When the dust settled at Richmond, ‘Ol Happy Harvick was the only driver smiling.
Kevin Harvick plowed through traffic on the final restart, driving from seventh to Victory Lane in a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. He did it with one of those head-scratching “Where did he come from?” drives in which everyone was just hanging on.
“Just shifted gears, hit the pedal and hoped for the best,” Harvick said. “They all went high and I went low. The seas kind of parted there. They didn’t get a very good restart, and my car launched.
“I was able to take it three-wide, those guys all drove it in hard, and I was able to get by the next two. I only had one to go by the time I got to the backstretch.”
It was Harvick’s first Sprint Cup win of the season — he opened the year with a win in the exhibition Sprint Unlimited at Daytona — and his 20th career victory. It put Chevrolet and Richard Childress Racing in Victory Lane, snapping a two-race winning streak by Joe Gibbs Racing.
“That was vintage Kevin Harvick right there,” crew chief Gil Martin said.
Juan Pablo Montoya was trying to hold off Harvick for his first win since 2010 when the caution came out with four laps remaining.
“I was like, ‘Really? Really?”’ Montoya said about the caution.
Montoya left the decision to pit or stay out to crew chief Chris Heroy, who gamely tried to calm the driver and convince him he could still win the race. He brought Montoya down pit road, a decision most of the field followed as everyone traded track position for tires.
Both Montoya and Harvick took four tires, which put them sixth and seventh on the final restart. Harvick teammate Jeff Burton was the leader after Burton, Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger didn’t pit and stayed on the track.