With the 2019 season serving as the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing, we plan to dip into the archives to present the stories of iconic moments, race wins, championships and much more as part of our weekly Throwback Thursday series.
Coming off a rain-delayed race at Dover International Speedway earlier this week, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway for a Saturday night battle under the lights at the 1.5-mile track in the heart of the Midwest.
Opened in 2001, Kansas Speedway has been the site of one Cup Series, one Xfinity Series and one ARCA Racing Series win for Richard Childress Racing.
Kevin Harvick delivered the team’s first victory at the 1.5-mile track in 2006, driving the No. 21 Chevrolet to one of nine Xfinity Series wins that season. Ty Dillon earned his first ARCA Racing Series win at Kansas Speedway in 2010, leading 10 laps in the No. 41 Chevrolet. During that season, Ty made three ARCA starts, earning two wins, three top-fives and one pole award.
RCR’s first Cup Series win at Kansas did not come until 2013 when Harvick put the No. 29 Chevrolet in Victory Lane after a dominating day that started with leading the field to the green from the pole position.
Harvick led early and often, keeping his RCR-prepared Chevrolet in contention throughout the entire race. However, a caution for debris after a green-flag stop mired Harvick mid-pack early in the going. Struggling in dirty air, crew chief Gil Martin called for a fuel-only pit stop that got the No. 29 some much-needed track position and back toward the front of the field.
With 44 laps to go, Harvick regained the lead and brought along RCR teammate Paul Menard to second when Brad Keselowski hit pit road under green. Just four laps later, the RCR teammates caught a break when the caution was thrown for debris, allowing them to hit pit road under yellow.
While Harvick and Menard took just two tires and fuel, RCR’s third car driven by Jeff Burton inherited the lead by taking fuel only and gaining 17 spots on the final stop of the day.
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On the ensuing restart, Harvick wasted no time getting by his teammate and driving away from the rest of the field. A caution with less than 25 laps to go put the field back on Harvick’s bumper for another restart, but the Chase contender was determined to stay out front for the final 19 green flag laps.
Driving away, Harvick took his third checkered flag of the season by 1.14 seconds over Kurt Busch. After entering the day fourth in the Chase standings, the victory moved Harvick into third in the title hunt just 25 points out of the championship lead.
“These just did a great job all weekend,” Harvick said in Victory Lane. “To have a car fast enough for me to qualify on the pole says a lot to how fast this thing is. I’m just really happy to be here.
“It was like driving two different cars. We got that debris caution right as we pitted there early. we got back in traffic and the car was just really tight,” he said. “Then we got better as the cloud cover came over and we found that middle line down in (Turns) 1 and 2. They kept me calm. I was starting to get pretty wound up because I knew we had a really fast car out front, it was just a matter of getting there because track position was so important.
“It was a good day. Just happy as heck for everyone on this team,” said Harvick.
This Kansas win would be Harvick’s second-to-last at RCR. He would go on to win at ISM Raceway in November before moving on to Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the 2013 season.