Harvick edges McMurray at line
TALLADEGA, Ala. — Kevin Harvick executed the pass exactly how his team drew it up in the playbook.
With a last-second slingshot past Jamie McMurray, Harvick snapped a 115-race winless drought with an overdue victory yesterday at Talladega Superspeedway. It was the payoff for perfect strategy devised in conversations over the weekend with crew chief Gil Martin and their Richard Childress Racing team.
Harvick lurked behind in traffic, trying to move his way into second place as the race hit the closing laps. His plan was to set himself up for one attempt at the lead, which he made roughly 500 yards from the finish line by sliding inside of McMurray then drag-racing him to the checkered flag.
"We made a plan, and I'm telling you, every piece of it played out exactly how we wanted to play it," Harvick said. "Coming into the last lap, that's exactly how we planned it out on paper."
The win gave Harvick his first victory since the 2007 season-opening Daytona 500, and it came in the longest Talladega race in Sprint Cup history. Because NASCAR's new overtime rule allows for three attempts at its version of overtime, the race went 12 laps past the scheduled distance of 188 trips around the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
It covered a record 88 lead changes among a record 29 drivers, and the final pass was the one that had everyone talking.
"I hate to show my age, but that was a tremendous pass just like the old days, like you would have seen Buddy Baker or Cale Yarborough," Martin said. "That was a tremendous pass, and it was timed perfectly."
McMurray, this year's Daytona 500 winner after winning the October race at Talladega, couldn't hide his disappointment at misplaying the final half-lap. Seeking his third consecutive restrictor-plate win, he stretched his fuel tank to the bitter end while racing wide-open to the finish line.
He held the bottom line, one eye on the finish line and the other in his rearview mirror, certain that Harvick's lone attempt to pass would be on the outside.
He was wrong.
"I really thought that Kevin was going to go high," McMurray said after his second-place finish. "I felt like I was close enough to the yellow line that there was a lot more racetrack to the right. I was really guarding against the outside. It's hard to explain to you guys that aren't in cars, but when there's someone directly behind you and they pull their car out of line really fast, it's like you pull a parachute in your car.
"It literally feels like you lose three or five miles an hour immediately, and when that happens, the car that's doing the passing just has the momentum."
KESELOWSKI WINS NATIONWIDE
Brad Keselowski won the Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in a wild end to a NASCAR doubleheader in Alabama.
It was nearly a replay of the Sprint Cup finish yesterday that saw Kevin Harvick nip Jamie McMurray at the finish line. McMurray got loose on the green-white checkered laps, triggering a wreck that nearly sent Dennis Setzer over the fence.
Setzer crashed into the safety fence and his car was on fire as it skidded down the track. It was similar to last year's Cup race at Talladega when Carl Edwards sailed into the fence, allowing Keselowski to pull off the surprise win.
Keselowski was one of 10 drivers who pulled double duty and drove nearly 850 miles.
BILLS SIGN TWO UNDRAFTED ROOKIES
The Buffalo Bills have signed two undrafted rookie free agents, University of California safety Brett Johnson and University at Buffalo receiver Naaman Roosevelt.
The schools announced the signings this weekend, following the conclusion of the NFL draft on Saturday.
Johnson was a two-year starter, who finished with 107 career tackles and three interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Roosevelt was a three-year starter, who set school career records with 268 catches, 3,551 yards receiving and 28 touchdowns.
AND WHAT'S MORE
Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old Southern California girl hoping to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone, has ended her quest and will head to South Africa for boat repairs. Sunderland wrote on her blog Saturday that it would be "foolish and irresponsible" to keep going after losing use of her boat's main autopilot. ... Franklin Mieuli, who for 24 years owned the Golden State Warriors as one of the most colorful owners in the history of the NBA, has died. He was 89. The Warriors announced in a news release that Mieuli died of natural causes yesterday in a San Francisco Bay Area hospital.