Day­tona gives wild night fi­nale as Har­vick wins it

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

DAY­TONA BEACH, Fla. — The cracked, patched and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing track held up bet­ter than most of the cars and some of the com­peti­tors.

A wild night race at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speedway — the last one on the track’s 32-year-old sur­face — ended with Kevin Har­vick tak­ing the check­ered flag, team­mate Clint Bowyer spin­ning through the in­field grass and sev­eral an­gry driv­ers search­ing for an­swers.

This might be re­mem­bered as one of the more chaotic events at NASCAR’s most fa­mous track.

“Ev­ery time I looked up, there was a crash go­ing on,” sec­ond-place fin­isher Kasey Kahne said late Satur­day.

It sure seemed that way, es­pe­cially over the fi­nal 45 laps.

De­spite a record 18 lead­ers and 47 lead changes, the real ex­cite­ment re­sulted from six multi-car crashes in the sec­ond half of the race that es­sen­tially wiped out more than half the field. The biggest of them all, a 20-car melee that in­cluded four-time de­fend­ing se­ries cham­pion Jim­mie John­son, came with 12 laps to go and halted ac­tion for 20 min­utes.

There was more com­mo­tion af­ter the race. The hottest ex­change was be­tween Carl Ed­wards and Kurt Busch, who wrecked at the fin­ish line. They had to be sep­a­rated.

“He just turned his car right and slammed into us,’’ Busch said. “Old trick for him.’’

“He’s just frus­trated be­cause he had a bad day,’’ Ed­wards coun­tered.

Har­vick, the sea­son points leader, grabbed his sec­ond vic­tory of the sea­son and his first at Day­tona since cap­tur­ing the 2007 Day­tona 500.

Kasey Kahne posted his third top-five fin­ish in the last four races. Jeff Gor­don was third, fol­lowed by Dale Earn­hardt Jr. and Jeff Bur­ton.

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