At Richmond Late Friday

NASCAR: Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott set bar for JR Motorsports with 1-2 finish

jutter@charlotteobserver.comApril 26, 2014 

— Wherever Kevin Harvick has gone this season, success has not been far behind.

After spending virtually his entire NASCAR career at Richard Childress Racing, Harvick moved to Stewart-Haas Racing to start the 2014 season and won two of the season’s first eight Sprint Cup Series races.

On Friday night, in a race that lasted into Saturday morning, Harvick added a win in the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway, his first Nationwide Series victory of the year and his first driving for JR Motorsports, which is co-owned by Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

To win the race delayed three hours by thunderstorms and run for the most part in a thick fog, Harvick had to hold off JRM teammate Chase Elliott, who had won the series’ previous two races.

The one-two finish in the race was the first for JRM as an organization.

“Racing with Chase is fun,” Harvick said. “He’s just a great kid and drives the heck out of a race car. Whether he knows it or not, he’s pushing all of us to be better. It’s a lot of fun to see this thing all come together.

“It’s still kind of strange sitting up here with (Earnhardt). We talked about a lot of things going into the year. You want them to all come together. I don’t think anybody knew they’d come together like they have.”

The win is JRM’s fourth in the series’ first eight races – already matching its previous record for an entire season set in 2009.

“I’m not used to having things this good on the ownership side,” Earnhardt said. “And I’m not used to being in the hunt for winning races week-in and week-out.

“I was standing there as we were leading about halfway through race thinking about I probably wasn’t appreciating exactly what we were accomplishing and just how well the company is doing, because it’s just so overwhelming.

“I won’t really realize what we’ve been able to do in the last 10 years and how far we’ve (come) until many years down the road.”

Elliott, the 18-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Bill Elliott, remains the series points leader, holding a 19-point advantage over another JRM teammate, Regan Smith.

Kyle Busch finished third, Kyle Larson was fourth and pole-winner Brian Scott was fifth.

Custer wins: Cole Custer picked up his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory of the season and third of his career with a win in Saturday morning’s rain-delayed Blue Ox 100 at Richmond.

Custer, the 16-year-old son of Joe Custer, executive vice president at Stewart-Haas Racing, also won a K&N Pro Series West race earlier this season at Phoenix.

Utter: (704) 358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter.

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