Kevin Harvick gambled on fuel mileage Saturday at Watkins Glen International en route to victory in the NASCAR Busch Series Zippo 200, tying Jack Ingram for second place on the all time win list in the process.
Harvick, who also was victorious in last week's controversial road course race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada, claimed his fifth victory of the season and 31st of his career to match Ingram’s career output.
Starting from 11th, the 2006 Busch Series champion last pitted on Lap 39 and stretched his fuel mileage 43 laps on his way to the victory.
"It was a really, really smart race that we ran, and we had a really fast car to go with it," said Harvick, who led 49 of 82 circuits. "We stuck to our plan and did everything we planned to do when we were close to our (pit) windows."
With the triumph, Harvick became the first driver since Ron Fellows to win back-to-back Busch Series road course races. It is also Harvick’s 16th top-10 finish in 17 Busch Series starts this year.
Teammate Jeff Burton finished 3.529 seconds behind Harvick to complete a sweep of the top two positions for owner Richard Childress.
Polesitter and defending race winner Kurt Busch looked strong in the early stages of the Zippo 200, but a different pit strategy cost him the victory as he could not catch Harvick in the waning stages of the 82-lap race. He came as close as second in the final 10 laps but fell to third after wearing out his brakes and losing the position to Burton.
Paul Menard finished fourth while a surprising Brad Coleman completed the top five.
Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Casey Mears, Ryan Newman and Andy Lally rounded out the top 10 finishers.
Further back, it was not a very good day for Mexico City road course winner Juan Pablo Montoya. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver looked to be fighting for a top-10 finish on Saturday until an accident prior to a restart on lap 68 sent him to the garage for an early retirement. Montoya finished his last scheduled Busch Series race of the year in 33rd position.
The day also wasn’t very kind to runaway championship leader Carl Edwards, who finished the event in 32nd place, six laps behind, due to mechanical issues. However, he still has a 766-point lead over David Reutimann with 11 races remaining this season.