Kevin Wins #2! It Wasn’t A Fluke! Kevin Wins 2001 Tropicana 400 Sprint Cup!

Posted on: November 29, 2013 by: leftturns190


Realized potential

Harvick dominant in Tropicana 400 victoryHarvick Tropicana 400 kevin wins

Posted: Sunday July 15, 2001 6:19 PM
Updated: Thursday July 19, 2001 6:52 PM

By Stephen Thomas,

JOLIET, Ill — Kevin Harvick fulfilled the promise he showed in Saturday’s Busch Grand National race, dominating Sunday’s Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

But whereas Harvick’s Saturday came to a premature end (the victim of a busted transmission), his Sunday didn’t end before he’d turned a few celebratory donuts in the infield grass, his exclamation points to his second win of the season.
Harvick, who led 108 of the race’s 267 laps, was clearly the class of Sunday’s field. After the race restarted for the ninth time on lap 234, he powered his way from sixth to first in five laps. Those five laps clearly demonstrated that Harvick’s No. 29 was the car to beat. On his way to the front, he didn’t pass people so much as blow by them.

“That [restart] was probably the toughest part,” Harvick said. “I thought [Jimmy] Spencer [in fifth] was the car to beat. And I knew he was going to be hard to pass. I saw an opportunity to make it three-wide and drive in on the bottom to get past, but with everyone else I was able to take some time and drive by them. But I knew Spencer was going to be a task.”
Those immediately in Harvick’s wake were Robert Pressley in second and Ricky Rudd in third. “It was a great day,” Pressley said of his career-best finish, which came in his 187th race. “I mean you couldn’t ask for anything better except the win.”

But if Pressley was pleased, Jeff Gordon was a bit less so. He suffered a late-race mechanical mishap for the second consecutive week, dropping a cylinder and finishing 17th. Because Rudd was followed across the line by teammate Dale Jarrett, the points race has taken on a decidedly interesting tone: Gordon and Jarrett are tied for the lead with Rudd just 18 points back in third. Rusty Wallace is a distant fourth, 207 points behind.

“We’re going through a tough time right now,” Gordon said of his uncharacteristic two-week stretch. “But as long as we’re tied for the points lead, we’ll take that.”

But the race for the series championship is a performance that plays out during the course of 36 weekends. Sunday was all about Harvick’s command performance. In winning his second race and moving from 10th to seventh in the points race, Harvick validates the splash he made in his first three races, when he finished 14th, eighth and first, respectively. At least it validates that promise in his mind anyway.

“This means a lot,” Harvick said. “When you get your first win, everybody says you’re a flash in the pan. So here’s the second win.”

The inaugural Winston Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway was a qualified success. While the lack of a dependable outside groove made for some straightforward stretches of racing, there were no major accidents to mar the grand opening.
However, there were a few scary moments. Mike Skinner, Harvick’s teammate, cut a tire and slammed into the outside wall (he suffered a mild concussion and a left ankle fracture). Later in the race, when Jerry Nadeau, who led several times and appeared to have a good shot at his second career victory, lost an oil line, Buckshot Jones slid through the mess and also smacked the outside wall. He was treated for pain in his left knee.

If the track’s opening signaled the arrival of a new venue in racing, Harvick’s win simply underscored the arrival of a once and future star.

“Kevin Harvick is the real deal,” said Richard Childress, owner of Harvick’s car. “He has backed that up with some really strong runs. Anyone who has seen his performance [this weekend], that should answer any questions about his driving ability.”