FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – A fast pit stop helped Kevin Harvick grab an emotional victory Saturday in the NASCAR Busch Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Harvick, whose father-in-law died earlier this week after a long illness, took the lead with a pit stop of just over 17 seconds on lap 168 of the 200-lap race. He then ran off to his fourth victory of the season and 17th career win in the Busch series.

The part-time Busch Series driver beat fellow Nextel Cup star Greg Biffle. Harvick was about 2 seconds and 20 car-lengths ahead of Biffle on the 1.5-mile oval halfway through the last lap when J.J. Yeley crashed, ending the race under caution. Harvick, who will also race in Sunday’s Dickies 500 on the Texas track, was teary-eyed and could barely speak after getting long hugs from wife DeLana and his Cup car owner Richard Childress in Victory Circle.

“Yeah, it’s been a tough week,” he said, choking back the tears. “I want to thank all these guys, my wife, everybody. It’s tough.”

Later, a dry-eyed Harvick said, “It’s been the hardest week I’ve ever had to go through. This (win) has been a little release to help heal the thing, but you’ve just got to take it day by day.

“Everything just worked out. We had a great pit stop and the 39 (Newman) didn’t pit and then got bit by the caution. If we hadn’t made a lot of good adjustments on that last stop, though, it wouldn’t have been such a good day.”

Biffle, who was the runner-up in a Busch race for the fifth time in the last eight races, shrugged off his disappointment.

“I’m the king of second places,” he said, grinning. “No problem finishing second to Kevin today. We’re all happy he won.

“Really, I had a third-place car all day. First Kasey (Kahne) crashed out, then Ryan (Newman) pitted and fell behind, then we had a bad pit stop and Kevin had a great pit stop and beat us out. That’s OK. We’ll take what we got.”

Newman, yet another of the so-called Buschwhackers – Cup stars who also race part-time in Busch – looked like he was on the way to his sixth straight Busch victory, leading 122 of the first 134 laps.

But Newman gambled on lap 106, staying on the track when the other 17 cars on the lead lap pitted for gas and fresh tires. Eventually, Newman lost the lead to Kahne and his newer tires on lap 135, after a great two-car duel for several laps. Then, Newman lost his shot at the victory when he pitted under the green flag on lap 160, while still running second.

Kahne crashed six laps later, moments after being passed for the lead by Biffle. The caution put Newman a lap down. He was able to get back on the lead lap, but wound up finishing 16th, the last car on the lead lap.

“If it had stayed green, the 39 would probably have won because he already made his last pit stop,” Biffle said. “But the yellow gave Harvick a chance to make that great stop.”

Cup regulars took five of the top six spots, with Carl Edwards finishing third, Kyle Busch fifth and Matt Kenseth sixth. Busch regular Reed Sorenson, who will be moving up to Cup full-time next season, was fourth.

Clint Bowyer finished seventh in the race and gained 16 points on series leader and reigning champion Martin Truex Jr., who was 11th. Truex now leads Bowyer by 84 points with two races remaining.

AP-ES-11-05-05 1734EST


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