Kevin Harvick wins NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway
Same story. Different series.
Just as in the Sprint Cup Series last week, Kevin Harvick became the first repeat winner in the Xfinity Series this season with his win in the Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway.
Harvick’s No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet finished 3.317 seconds ahead of Brendan Gaughan’s No. 62 Chevy, easily pulling away after the last restart on lap 122 of 150.
“I’m just a lucky guy to be piloting really fast cars,” Harvick told Fox Sports in victory lane. “Everything is clicking right now. You just have to keep riding the wave.”
That wave includes victories in the last two Sprint Cup events. Saturday’s win was the first in Xfinity at Auto Club Speedway for Harvick, who has 46 career victories in the series.
Harvick led four times for 100 laps, including the final 64 laps.
“Making laps around this place, knowing what seam does what, which patch does what and when to go low and when to go high, I feel like the more laps I can make, the better off I’m going to be for tomorrow,” said Harvick, who will start second in the Auto Club 400.
Harvick also won the Xfinity race last month at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“I had a lot of fun today, I couldn’t sit down for the Atlanta race,” said Dave Elenz, Harvick’s crew chief. “This one was fun for me.”
Gaughan’s runner-up finish for Richard Childress Racing was his best since winning at Kentucky Speedway last September.
“Anytime you’re in the top five in this series, you’re doing something right,’' Gaughan said told Fox Sports. “I love the fact that I’m pissed off about being second. I love my restarts. Our restarts got us there. I don’t care if I finished fifth, I just wanted a shot at it. Because I know I’m pretty darn good on restarts.”
Gaughan has three top-10 finishes through the first five races of 2015 and is sixth in the points standings. Ty Dillon, who finished 14th, leads the points. Chris Buescher, who was fifth Saturday, trails by five points.
Rookie Erik Jones was third in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after starting from his first career pole.
Denny Hamlin led 33 of the first 37 laps in his No. 54 Toyota but fell a lap down after being penalized for speeding in the pits late in the race.
“We were kind of racing for nothing at that point,” Hamlin said. “I thought we were blowing up because the car was smoking so bad. I assumed we were blowing up, so I didn’t care about speeding. I sped on pit road and turns out that we got the grill cleaned off, and the car came back.”
The Xfinity Series will return April 10 for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
1. Kevin Harvick (100 laps led)
2. Brendan Gaughan
3. Erik Jones (4 laps led)
4. Chase Elliott
5. Chris Buescher
6. Brian Scott
7. Kyle Larson
8. Brad Keselowski (1 lap led)
9. Regan Smith (4 laps led)
10. Elliott Sadler
11. Ryan Reed
12. Darrell Wallace Jr. (3 laps led)
13. Daniel Suarez
14. Ty Dillon
15. David Starr (2 laps led)
16. Cale Conley
17. Ross Chastain
18. Denny Hamlin (33 laps led)
19. Blake Koch
20. Ryan Sieg
21. Landon Cassill
22. JJ Yeley
23. John Wes Townley
24. Jeremy Clements
25. Harrison Rhodes
26. Mike Bliss
27. Mario Gosselin
28. Jeffrey Earnhardt (3 laps led)
29. Peyton Sellers
30. Joey Gase
31. Derrike Cope
32. Stanton Barrett
33. Derek White
34. Eric McClure
35. Mike Harmon
36. Dakoda Armstrong
37. Sam Hornish Jr.
38. Austin Dillon
39. Carl Long
40. Jeff Green
Average speed: 147.723 MPH
Time of race: 2 Hrs., 1 min. and 51 seconds
Cautions: 3 for 12
Margin of victory: 3.317 seconds
Lead changes: 13 among 8 drivers