Harvick leads all but 16 laps in victory
MADISON, Ill. -- Kevin Harvick took the first half of a racing doubleheader Saturday with a near wire-to-wire victory in the Camping World 200.
Harvick won for the third time in four NASCAR truck races this season, leading for 143 of the 160 laps at the 1.25-mile Gateway International Raceway. He led by up to 8 seconds and the margin of victory was more than 5 seconds.
"That was the hope coming here, that the day was going to go like it did," Harvick said.
Before qualifying for the Nationwide Dodge Dealers 250 on Saturday night, he traded barbs with runner-up Brad Keselowski.
"The only way we were going to win the race is if he made a mistake, and I felt like he did. He passed the pace car pitting and you're not supposed to do that," said Keselowski, while acknowledging that Harvick had the best truck all race. "He got away with that one, so we didn't catch that break."
Harvick's response: "I'd have complained if I got beat that bad, too."
The truck race was postponed Friday night because of a power failure. The top three finishers plus Steve Wallace, who was 17th, planned to race Saturday night.
Among those racing twice, Keselowski was the third-fastest qualifier, Wallace was ninth and Harvick 10th.
Harvick took the first trucks pole position of his career in qualifying Friday, then dusted the field with an average speed of 101.983 mph. Johnny Sauter finished third and Aric Almirola, who led for 16 laps, was eighth.
"You can't take anything away from the fact he's a hell of a race car driver," Keselowski said of Harvick. "He'd be tough to beat if you were heads-up equipment-wise, and beyond that he's probably got an advantage of being in the series for a few years."
Todd Bodine, the series points leader, was fourth on a hot, muggy day with temperatures in the high 90s. Minutes after the finish he was sprawled in the air-conditioned media center surrounded by ice packs.
"Man, I burned my butt bad and my back even got burned," Bodine said. "That's why I laid down on the cold floor."
The top finishers weren't concerned about racing more in the heat.
"It won't be near as hot tonight," Harvick said. "This race, it was hot, but it's still shorter than a NASCAR [Cup] race ... so I should be OK."
The heat might have helped Harvick, who woke up with a stiff neck.
"The longer I ran, I actually felt better," he said. "As the race went on I got more and more relaxed."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press