Pit strategy pays off for Kevin Harvick in Nationwide win

Kevin Harvick drove the car, but he’s not taking credit for the win.

“Ernie Cope and his call on pit road is what won us this race today,” Harvick said after winning Saturday’s Jimmy Johns 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.

That became clear during the fifth caution of the race when teams suddenly broke off on wildly divergent pit strategies.

Three cars elected not to pit, which left rookie Chris Buescher in the lead on the restart on Lap 158 of 200. Several took only two new tires, including Harvick, who restarted in fifth.

Kyle Busch dominated much of the first two-thirds of the race, restarted in 16th after he took on four new tires.

With only one more caution before the finish, Busch did not have enough time to get back to the front to challenge Harvick.

“That call won us the race. The car was fast and with not having many laps on the tires and (Busch) being buried in the field, that’s what won us the race,” said Harvick, who earned his fourth Nationwide Series win of the season and 44th of his career.

Busch agreed his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing team’s pit decision likely cost his the win.

“It (stinks) to not be in Victory Lane where we should be, but you know what, this car was fast and deserved to win, but I couldn’t get through traffic,” he said.

Kyle Larson finished second, Busch third, Ryan Blaney fourth and Trevor Bayne ended up fifth.

Chase Elliott, who finished 10th, continues to lead the series standings and holds an 18-point lead over Regan Smith.

“Ernie and Kevin have won a lot of races this year and they’ve been a big reason the program has been able to take that next step,” said JR Motorsports team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“We’ve got two drivers – Chase and Regan – trying to win the driver’s championship. With any luck those two guys will still be in the hunt when we get to Homestead (the season finale).

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