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Kevin Harvick entered Friday’s “Lucas Oil 200″ NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race as one of the most successful drivers at Dover International Speedway who has never won a race. Through 39 events in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series,
NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Harvick had run near the top several times, but had always fallen victim to something – equipment failure, someone else’s equipment failure or some other form of bad luck.
On Friday, Harvick was able to add rain to that list. Although he had a dominant No. 2 Tide Chevrolet truck that could outrun any other on the track in clean air, it could not outrun the weather. Harvick was running third when the race was ended on lap 147 with Todd Bodine declared the winner. Bodine recovered from a spinout on lap 69 to be in the right place at the right time when the skies opened up.
In a race where just about everybody expected rain to arrive, there were a few delays before it did. There were three cautions in the first 29 laps and a total of five in the first 100 for various reasons. Jason White lost an engine in a spectacular and very fiery fashion on lap 13. John Wes Townley spun out on lap 25, and four laps later a five-car wreck slowed affairs for four laps.
Harvick, who started from the pole, led the first 29 laps until pitting after Townley’s ride through Turn 2. He drove through traffic to take the front spot again on lap 55 and led by more than three seconds at times. But he gave up the lead during a pit stop under yellow on lap 121. After his stop, the track got its first shower and NASCAR stopped the race for 15 minutes.
From there, it was a guessing game for teams as to what to do. The skies continued to threaten, and there were two more accidents that brought out the yellow and complicated matters – a Max Gresham accident on lap 129, and a wreck involving points leader Justin Lofton and Ron Hornaday, Jr. on lap 137. Once the race went back green on lap 139 after the second yellow, it only lasted five more laps before rain started to fall again.
That was exactly what Bodine and crew chief Rick Gay, Jr. wanted to see. They’d elected to stay out rather than pit, putting them in a fuel conservation mode – Bodine was actually cutting the engine off and on again during the caution periods to save on gas.
“We were either going to win it or we were going to be 20th behind all those guys,” Bodine said. “Sometimes it works out.”
As a result, Bodine ended up with his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Dover in the “Lucas Oil 200.”
“It’s my first series win as well, so I’m excited about what we did there,” Gay said. “We took a pretty good gamble and it paid off for us.”
Harvick lamented the rain’s timing, and wasn’t sure the first yellow flag was completely necessary. But he chalked it up to bad luck.
“We had a great truck all weekend and just got beat by the weather there,” he said. “It wound up raining and not
finishing the race. The guys did a great job of controlling all the things they could control and that’s all you can do.”
Parker Kligerman took home a second-place finish, a fantastic day considering he was one of the five cars collected in the accident on lap 29.
“We were fast, just biding our time,” Kligerman said. “We knew we’d probably get to halfway with the rain. We were just in the wrong place in the wrong time, got a little front end damage. The guys did a great job repairing it. I was angry and just kind of drove with my hair on fire.”
The cars were noticeably slower across the board in traffic, and Bodine thought Harvick, despite all his success, might have had trouble catching himself or Kligerman if the weather had allowed the race to go the distance.
“From what I saw in the mirror, I don’t know if he could have done it,” Bodine said. “When you get back behind somebody, the air’s so dirty that it really becomes difficult to pass. I think Parker and myself both would have had to make mistakes and get out of the groove. When our truck was out in front like that, it was half a second faster
per lap. All the problems I’d been complaining about went away magically when we got out in front. It would have been interesting to see.”
After Harvick, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Cale Gale rounded out the top five. Ty Dillon, who will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut on Saturday in the “5-hour ENERGY 200,” finished sixth, with James Buescher, Matt Crafton, Timothy Peters and Lofton completing the top 10.
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