Kevin Harvick, driving the #29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, won a hard fought AMD at The Glen. Finishing a close second was Tony Stewart in the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet. Jamie McMurray (#26 Crown Royal Ford) finished third, Robby Gordon (#7 Jim Beam Chevrolet) finished fourth and Carl Edwards brought his #99 Office Depot Ford home in fifth position.
The decisive pass of the race came with two laps to go. Harvick made a strong move down the inside of turn one to take the lead away from Tony Stewart. Stewart had powered his way past Harvick going down the back straight only 7 laps before.
A jubilant Harvick said "I was thinking; 'Oh my God, how am I going to get him if he's going that deep?'" He continued: "My car was good in turn one. I think he didn't have the brakes I did. It stuck for me and I went by." Talking about Stewart, Harvick said, "To be able to race each other was fun. It's great running with your buddy."
The driver of the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet also benefited from his team's decision to make a green-flag pit stop on lap 53. This was one lap before a caution flew. While everyone else went in for service under caution, Harvick was able to stay out, improving his track position. He would take the lead for the first time on lap 58 after Reed Sorenson pitted. This was Harvick's first victory at Watkins Glen International and his first on a road course.
Second placed Stewart said, "My only shot was getting him going into the inner loop. As soon as I got by, we were really loose and I couldn't hold him off. He was really good off the corners." Stewart, who is a good friend of winner Harvick, said, "Its fun racing guys you can trust like that. He hit his marks today."
Third place finisher Jamie McMurray commented, "The only place I thought I could get the 29 was going into the inner loop. The cautions hurt our car. We couldn't get the tires cleaned off and then the brakes cooled. My car was better on the long runs."
Robby Gordon, who finished a dramatic second yesterday in the NASCAR Busch Series Zippo 200, said, "We went a little conservative on the motor and we lost ground on the straight. I couldn't get close enough to out-brake Jamie." It's the seventh time in 10 tries that Robby has finished fourth or better at Watkins Glen International.
Harvick went on about his win, "To beat Tony, who's won here so many times, makes it really gratifying. I got more aggressive into the corners after Tony passed me. He made a little mistake going into the last turn and that helped me get by Tony in turn one."
At the half way point of the race, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon were running nose to tail, just ahead of Jeff Gordon. This was shaping up to be quite a battle between some of the best road racers in NASCAR. Busch had already one both poles and the Busch Series race this weekend; Stewart had won three of the last four races here, and Robby Gordon had won at The Glen in 2003 and had 7 top-5 finishes in nine races here. Jeff Gordon, of course, is the winningest road course driver in Watkins Glen and NASCAR history.
Busch's day took a turn for the worse on lap 54 when Joe Nemechek made heavy contact with the outside barrier exiting the inner loop, bringing out a full course caution, just as Kurt was entering the pits. Replays showed that Busch was mere feet from the white line marking the entrance to the pits. Even though he was too close to change course, Busch was penalized, by rule, for the infraction. Even Stewart had sympathy for Busch, saying, "You've got to feel for Kurt Busch today. He had the strongest car today. It was a bad call to penalize him." Busch would eventually finish in 19th position, even though he led a race-high 38 laps.
Jeff Gordon would finish a disappointing 13th after getting caught in traffic after his last pit stop. While racing in close quarters with a bunch of cars, he spun in turn one, losing even more positions. He is now 9th in the point standing, 30
points ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 18th today.
The day's longest caution happened on lap 63 when 9 cars piled into each other at the top of the hill exiting the esses. It all began when #22 Dave Blaney was tapped from behind by #17 Matt Kenseth. The cars following (#14 Sterling Marlin, #01 Joe Nemechek, #4 Scott Wimmer, #34 Brian Simo, #96 Terry Labonte and #2 Kurt Busch) had nowhere to go and a chain reaction crash ensued. Marlin and Nemechek were eliminated on the spot.
Harvick's win consolidates his solid third place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. Jimmie Johnson, who finished 17th, continues to lead the standings with 3241 points, 124 ahead of Matt Kenseth who finished 21st. The other drivers still in the top 10 in points are Harvick, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Those drivers who are just outside the top 10 and therefore not qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup are Kasey Kahne (54 points out) and Kurt Busch (172 points out).
The 2006 AMD at The Glen had a record number of cautions: 10 for 22 laps. Kyle Busch would be awarded a record 5 "Lucky Dog" laps back. The competitiveness of the series makes for very close racing and that was the rule rather than the exception today. There were many more bumps, scrapes and spins that didn't bring out any cautions. The margin of victory was 0.892 sec. following 90 laps of competition. There were 14 lead changes among 11 drivers. The time of the race was 2:52:27 for an average speed of 76.718 mph.