By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Some wondered whether we’d even see a lap of the Sam’s Club 300 today… well the race did get underway, and no it was not shortened by rain.
Kevin Harvick had the dominant car early, but was shuffled back multiple times due to pit crew miscues, and strategy mistakes. Harvick was very vocal over the radio calling his pitcrew “idiots” at one point. You almost can’t blame Harvick for being upset, it seems every week thus far pit errors have cost him the race.
There was a caution for rain that came out on lap 104, and many thought that would be the end of the race. Kyle Busch was leading at the time of the caution, but the rain would not last.
They would go back to green a few laps later on lap 109.
The field would race feverishly the rest of the way fearing that rain would stop the race at any time, and it would appeared it would be a battle between Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch until the inevitable. However the rain would somehow hold off the rest of the day. On the next caution on lap 145 several drivers including Denny Hamlin decided to take no tires or just two tires to move to the front.
This jumbled the lineup, and actually paid off for a while. Hamlin would pull out to a commanding lead until a caution on lap 165 that wiped his advantage away.
Hamlin was able to use late cautions to help conserve his tires, but he could not hold off Kevin Harvick who led the most laps on the day.
Harvick would overcome earlier misfortunes and would go on to win the Sam’s Town 300 in Las Vegas. Harvick led 83 of the 200 laps on the day.
Denny Hamlin would go on to finish second, Carl Edwards came home third, Brad Keselowski ended up fourth after starting on the pole, and Brian Vickers was fifth.
Kyle Busch was in contention until brushing the wall late in the race. The contact with the wall would affect Busch’s car and he would wind up finishing 16th.
Danica Patrick’s final Nationwide race for the next four months ended on lap 84. She collided with Michael McDowell in an accident where it was a case of both drivers looking for the same piece of real estate. Danica was quick to blame McDowell, but after watching the accident again I think it was just a racing accident. Michael McDowell did apologize to Danica after the accident saying, “it was 100-percent my fault”.
This was the first race that Danica actually looked somewhat comfortable so far. She was mixing it up all day, and kept moving forward throughout the day. At one point she was up to third using a different pit sequence from the leader. There are a lot of positives to take from this race for Patrick, however the fact that she failed to finish is still a concern.