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Kevin Harvick pulled away on a restart with 47 laps to go and ended Chase Elliotts two-race winning streak in NASCARs Nationwide Series with a dominating victory early Saturday at Richmond International Raceway. Harvick led 202 of the 250 laps in a race delayed nearly 3 1/2 hours at the start by rain Friday night. The victory was the 41st of his career in the series, and his record-extending seventh at 0.75-mile Richmond. Elliott, the Georgia high-schooler and son of racing great Bill Elliott, was looking to win his third consecutive race and pad his points lead, but managed to do just the latter when Harvick was too fast. "I think he just outdrove me a little bit, honestly" Elliott said. "Some of it was me.
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I kind of let him get too far out in front of me." The pair finished nearly seven seconds ahead of third-place finisher Kyle Busch, and Harvick said Elliott, a teammate at JR Motorsports, has had a positive impact that helped produce the 1-2 finish. "He pushes us to be better by trying different things," Harvick said. "Hes as good as they get and a lot of fun to be around." Busch never really contended, but said his team made steady gains all race long. "The racing was sort of a struggle for us to start with," he said. Kyle Larson, awarded the pole for Saturdays Sprint Cup race based on practice speeds when qualifying for that race was rained out earlier Friday night, finished fourth, with pole-sitter Brian Scott fifth.
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Scott, the pole-sitter, led the first 239 laps here last September before getting passed by Brad Keselowski with 11 laps to go. Scott led the first 43 laps Friday night and stayed in the top 10 all night, but with Harvick repeatedly opening up huge margins, second place seemed like the prize at stake. Elliott took that away as the only car that could challenge Harvick at the end. The ending was tougher for Elliott Sadler, who had worked his way up to third with some nifty work by his pit crew, but when the race went back to green with 54 to go, he got turned around in Turn 2.
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It looked like Trevor Bayne nudged Regan Smith, who then nudged Sadler. The Emporia native finished sixth. Elliotts points lead grew from 13 to 19 over Smith, who finished eighth. The race also marked the Nationwide Series debut for Daniel Suarez, who has impressed in the K&N Pro Series East Tour. He drove for Joe Gibbs Racing, starting 12th and finishing 19th. Suarez also was schedule to return to race in Saturday reschedule K&N Pro Series East Tour race starting at 9 a.m. MONTREAL - Veteran racing driver Alex Tagliani says it would be crazy for his hometown to lose its NASCAR Nationwide race over what he feels is a pittance. The fifth — and possibly last — running of the NAPA Auto Parts 200 will be held this weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where it has already built a history of aggressive racing marked by surprising finishes on the 2.27-mile road course. The events future was put in doubt when the Quebec government turned down a request for $500,000 to help promote it outside Montreal, an amount they hoped would be matched by the federal government.
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"In my opinion, the small amount were talking about for the government to invest would be killing two birds with one stone — to promote the race and to bring money into your own city," Tagliani said. "Its just that nobody seems to understand that, so were very sad." Former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve of Montreal had made an impassioned plea to keep the race in media interviews earlier in the week. NASCAR has yet to put out its schedule for 2012 and no decision has been made on whether it will include Montreal. The race is owned by Florida-based International Speedway Corporation and its subsidiary Stock Car Montreal, which released a statement Wednesday that said they were encouraged by the strong support from fans and the media.
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"Discussions are ongoing with all relevant parties in Montreal concerning future plans. We expect to have a decision in the next few weeks and will make an announcement at the appropriate time," it said. If its the last one, it will go out in style with a solid driver roster that includes Robbie Gordon, Marcos Ambrose and defending champion Boris Said, as well as Canadian road race vets Tagliani, whos from Lachenaie, Que., and Villeneuve, and what is expected to be the final race of former Champ Car ace Patrick Carpentiers long driving career.