Mishap on pit road costs Harvick opportunity for Richmond victory

Associated Press • May 7, 2007 at 1:15 AM

RICHMOND, Va. - Kevin Harvick led four times for 105 laps in Sunday's Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway, and it may have been a mistake by the driver or his crew that cost him a chance at his second Nextel Cup victory here.

With about 148 laps to go, Harvick had been leading and dominant for 39 laps when he pitted under caution. Moments later, he was exiting his pit stall as David Ragan was entering his a few spots ahead when Harvick's front right hit Ragan's rear left.

Ragan spun and wound up facing in the wrong direction, and Harvick damaged the front right of his car. Harvick also was penalized for speeding on pit road, a penalty that forced him to pit again. When he got back out, he was in 17th position.

"Maybe I should have saw him and Todd should have saw him," Harvick said, referring to crew chief Todd Berrier, who consulted with Harvick after the race. "It was just one of those things where everything was happening all at once. Just one of those things."

Harvick rallied to finish seventh, but felt like he could have won. He said he also hopes his team can avoid such mistakes in the future.

"We don't need to throw away any more good cars like that," he said. "We've just got to get it straight and we'll get it straight and be all good from there."

POINTS SHUFFLE: Tough days for Jeff Burton, who finished last, and Jamie McMurray, who was 41st, produced a major shuffle in the points standings after 10 races.

Burton, second going into the race, blew an engine and ran just 139 laps.

"I broke the engine. I don't know why I broke the engine," he said. "We were only turning like 3,800 rpms here with this car. It just ate it self up."

Normally among the most polite drivers in the garage, Burton grew testy when asked the source of his frustration after parking in the garage and climbing from his car.

"That's pretty stupid question," he snapped.

McMurray, seventh in points going in, hit the wall on lap 54, had to pit twice for repairs, then headed to the garage. When he returned, he was 84 laps off the pace.

"I don't know if a shock broke or something," he said. "I got up against the wall and the car just turned right, and then I got into the wall."

Burton dropped to fifth in points, McMurray to 13th.

WHO'S NO. 2?: The three-car entry of Joe Gibbs Racing has now led 794 of the 1,716 laps run in the four races featuring the Car of Tomorrow, and dominates that stat.

Hendrick Motorsports cars, by comparison, have led 549 of those laps. But the Hendrick cars have won all four races, with Gibbs' Denny Hamlin third three times.

CUTTING THROUGH TRAFFIC: Johnny Sauter was the victim on lap 119 when Ryan Newman nudged Juan Pablo Montoya, Montoya nudged Sauter and both hit the wall in turn two.

But that was just the beginning of the trouble for Sauter.

After heading to the pits for repairs to the back end of his Chevrolet, Sauter went back on the track with a reciprocating saw dangling off the right rear. That caused him to have to return to the pits for a damaging penalty under a green flag on lap 124.

By the time he got back onto the track, the rest of the field was on lap 127.

Montoya wound up with an aggressive driver warning.

MR. ELIGIBLE: Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards is known for doing back flips off his car in victory lane, but hadn't done one for 47 consecutive events entering Sunday.

That doesn't mean he's not getting noticed.

Edwards was recently featured as an eligible bachelor on a television program and said being highlighted was fine with him. He even got to talk about his dream woman.

"I didn't really talk about my dream date, but I told them Halle Berry was pretty far up the list," he said of his appearance on the show "Extra."

"I've never met her, but from outward appearances, she seems pretty cool."

LONG NAME: The complete race name was the "Crown Royal presents the Jim Stewart 400," the result of a promotion by Crown Royal in which fans competed for the right to have the race named for them. Stewart, of Houma, La., gave the call to start engines.

He also inadvertently delivered one of the best quotes of the season.

"Crown Royal," he said of the whiskey, "has been a staple of my family for years."

LUG NUTS: Saturday night's postponement of the Crown Royal 400 was the first rainout in NASCAR's premier series since last April at Talladega, when the race was run on Monday. ... The track qualifying record is held by Brian Vickers, and the track race record is held by Dale Jarrett. Both now drive Toyotas, and neither qualified for Sunday's race. It's the first race Jarrett has failed to make since 1994 at North Wilkesboro, N.C. ... Dave Blaney's 11th-place finish was the second-best for a Toyota in 10 races this season. Vickers was 10th at California in late February.

FINAL WORD: "I feel honored to win this race here in Virginia. Obviously what took place, no one could ever describe. It's just so sad." - Race winner Jimmie Johnson, who climbed from his car wearing the Virginia Tech hat he'd been wearing all weekend.

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