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Harvick turns it on for victory

Crew's decision is the pits for Busch

With a lot of skill and loads of luck, Kevin Harvick stole a road race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International that seemed to be Kurt Busch's from the start.

Harvick, who moved into contention when Busch was penalized for pitting too soon midway through the 90-lap race, passed Tony Stewart with three laps to go yesterday and won the caution-plagued AMD at The Glen.

It was Harvick's first road win and his second victory of the year driving for resurgent Richard Childress Racing. And it was stunning because Stewart had won three of the previous four races at Watkins Glen.

``I knew my only shot to get him back was getting into [Turn] 1," said Harvick, who moved up one spot to third in the points standings. ``I knew I was only going to have a couple of chances, so I took my chance, it stuck, and I went on by."

The pass was made coming out of the 11th turn. Harvick outbraked Stewart through the turn, edged past him on the front straightaway, and completed the pass entering the first turn, a 90-degree righthander. He then pulled away over the final two laps over the 11-turn, 2.45-mile layout.

``I think I just overdrove the entries and exits, and he was good," said Stewart, who moved up two spots to seventh in the points race.

The race changed midway on an error by Busch's crew. Joe Nemechek spun off course and brought out a caution for debris. Busch, with instructions from crew chief Roy McCauley, entered the pits for tires and fuel in what would be his last stop. But he crossed the commitment line a split second before the pits opened and was forced to go to the rear of the field on the restart.

``Kurt, I don't know what to say. I'm about in tears," McCauley said over the radio. ``I'm sorry, Kurt."

``I think I'm OK," Busch said.

He was, but not for long. Seconds after the race restarted, Busch was caught in a multicar crash that also involved Matt Kenseth. Busch's No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge sustained front-end damage, and his chances for a victory vanished for good.

``We put ourselves in position for NASCAR to make a call, and it didn't end up in our favor," said Busch, who rallied into the top 10 but spun out on the final lap and finished 19th. ``We're going to stand here and discuss it, but it doesn't do any good now."

The top 10 drivers in the standings qualify for the 10-race Chase, now in its third year. And Busch, 13th and fighting for the last spot with Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., appeared set to make a big jump. Instead, he remained 13th, 172 points behind Earnhardt, who remained 10th after an 18th-place finish.

Busch, fresh from his stirring victory over Robby Gordon in Saturday's Busch Series race at The Glen, began from the pole. And he was the class of the field from the start, leading 36 of the first 53 laps.

Stewart ran second much of the time, and every time there was a caution, Busch had a rearview mirror full of Stewart's bright-orange Chevrolet. But Stewart, one of the best on restarts, was unable to snooker Busch on three tries.

``You feel for Kurt today," Stewart said. ``He had a car that was capable of winning the race. That's absolutely rotten, terrible luck right there."

IRL -- Sam Hornish reclaimed the Indy Racing League points lead, passing Scott Dixon with four laps to go to win the Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

Hornish's fourth win of the year was the eighth by Team Penske this season. His second career victory at Kentucky helped him get back the points lead from Helio Castroneves, who finished third behind Hornish and Dixon.

Hornish leads Castroneves by seven points heading into the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma in two weeks.

He gave up the lead to his teammate at Michigan July 30, when a broken water pump sent him to a season-worst 19th-place finish.

The potential duel between Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher never developed, despite the two becoming the first women to start alongside each other in an IRL race.

Though they began the day side-by-side on Row 6, Patrick -- who collided with Vitor Meira during practice before the race -- ran in the top half of the field most of the day before finishing eighth. Fisher, making her first IRL start since the 2004 Indy 500, needed a late surge to finish 12th, a lap behind the leaders.

Champ Car -- A.J. Allmendinger made his fourth victory of the season look easy at the Grand Prix of Denver, and his Forsythe Championship Racing teammate, Paul Tracy, ticked off another driver.

Allmendinger took the lead on Lap 47 and pulled away from the field as he moved into second place in the points race, 32 behind Sebastien Bourdais.

Tracy, who was having fuel problems late, was trying to hold off Bourdais heading into the final turn of the race. Bourdais passed Tracy, but Tracy locked the brakes and slid into Bourdais and both cars failed to finish.

Bourdais got out of his car and charged after Tracy. He pointed an accusing finger at Tracy, the two exchanged words, Bourdais shoved Tracy, and then Bourdais walked away.

Tracy was on probation for a crash he'd caused with Alex Tagliani July 30.

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