Kevin Harvick dominated the Wonderful Pistachios 400 tonight in Richmond and notched his fourth victory of the season. Harvick started in seventh, and led the most laps to go get the win, but it wasn't as easy as it looked.
He almost got caught a lap down when he came down pit road under green when a caution came out. He then had to pit under that caution as the last car on the lead lap. He restarted in 18th and had to work his way back up to the lead. With about twenty laps to go, Jeff Gordon took the lead away from Harvick and was driving away when Paul Menard spun out to bring out a caution with 15 laps to go. Harvick's pit crew got him off pit road first and he never looked back. He led the final 12 laps to the finish, but had to hold off a hard charging Carl Edwards with three laps to go.
The fourth win ties him with Kyle Busch for the series lead in wins, and ties Busch in points as the standings are reset this week when the Chase begins.
There were 14 drivers who were mathematically eligible to make the Chase tonight, but the top 12 in points entering the race tonight are the top 12 drivers in the Chase. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, and Marcos Ambrose all were caught up in a wreck on lap 8. All were able to continue on. Hamlin rebounded to finish ninth, and lock himself into the Chase. Earnhardt was able to make it in on points as well.
Although the two drivers who used the wild card were also in the top 12 in points, the wild card certainly gave a lot of extra excitement tonight. The troubles that the eligible drivers all had tonight made for a lot of uncertainty.
Kevin Harvick (tied with Busch)
Jeff Gordon (-3)
Matt Kenseth (-6)
Carl Edwards (-9)
Jimmie Johnson (-9)
Kurt Busch (-9)
Ryan Newman (-9)
Tony Stewart (-12)
Dale Earnhardt Jr (-12)