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Kevin Harvick Wins Uncertain 2013 Sprint Unlimited

Fan Votes and One Big Wreck Shaped this Event but a Fast Car Won the Race

By

Updated February 17, 2013
Uncertainty was the key word for the 2013 Sprint Unlimited. Drivers came into the event with a brand new race car that so far had been crash tested more than draft tested in Daytona. The drivers had a big crash in preseason testing and another big crash in practice on Friday. Would the Sprint Unlimited wreck even more race cars?

The other uncertainty was the race itself. Fans voted to determine four key aspects of the event including the starting lineup, the breakdown of the three segments, whether or not to have a mandatory pit stop and what it would consist of and how many drivers to eliminate after segment two.

At the start of the night the 2013 Sprint Unlimited featured more questions than any event in history.

The Fan Voting Results

The first fan vote to be decided was for the breakdown of the 75 laps. 55% of the fans voted for the longest final segment from the three available options. The three segements were made up of thirty laps, twenty-five laps and then twenty laps.

The second vote announced was only for the fans at the track. They got to pick the starting lineup from three available choices. The fans at Daytona chose to start the nineteen eligible drivers in the order that they scored a pole in 2012 with former event winners starting at the back.

Carl Edwards won the pole for the Daytona 500 in 2012 so he started on the pole for the Sprint Unlimited with Phoenix polesitter Mark Martin on the outside of row number one.

However, both Edwards and Martin wrecked their primary cars during practice so they both had to switch to backup cars and drop to the back. This moved Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle up to the front row when the green flag flew.

The next vote to be announced was the pit stop. Unsurprisingly 63% of fans voted for a mandatory full four- tire stop at the end of the first segment.

The next item that the fans decided was to not eliminate any drivers at the end of segment number two with 55% of the votes agreeing. This turned to to be fortunate. If the fans had voted to eliminate six drivers (which received the second highest number of votes) then only six drivers would have been left for the final segment.

Finally the fans decided one non-competition item. Fans voted on which firesuit Miss Sprint Cup would wear in Victory Lane.

The Actual Racing

The first segment was dominated by Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart who each took turns showing real strength

Just fifteen laps into the first segment Tony Stewart pulled down to the inside lane a little bit too soon and wrecked seven race cars including Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Terry Labonte. This left just twelve cars to run the rest of the event including Tony Stewart who avoided any serious damage during the incident when he slid sideways while the wreck happened behind him.

It was, in fact, Tony Stewart who got a run on the outside and won the first segment over Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.

It was Harvick's team that won the battle in the pits and he took the lead for the start of segment two with Tony Stewart second.

The second segment was pretty quiet. Kevin Harvick lead a long line of drivers who stuck to the high line. Although Stewart lead a couple of small breaks on the bottom Harvick was able to hold them off and win the second segment without much trouble.

The Final Segment

Twenty laps remained when the drivers lined up for the final segment. Kevin Harvick was in control with Greg Biffle along side in second.

As the laps ticked away Kevin Harvick continued to lead the outside line with Tony Stewart tucked in behind him in second. Matt Kenseth still had a fast car but he was having trouble finding help on the bottom.

With four laps to go ten of the twelve remaining cars were lined up single file on the outside as two cars had lost the lead draft. Would anyone even try to win this?

Matt Kenseth pulled out again from the back but nobody would go with him causing him to lose ground again.

Still nobody threatened Harvick's lead as the white flag flew.

Joey Logano was the first to move low out of fifth. Kenseth dropped down to push and then Stewart dropped to the bottom to try. Harvick threw the block and that was all it took to break Stewart's momentum he then returned to the top to slam the door on Greg Biffle and claim the win.

This was Kevin Harvick's third Sprint Unlimited victory, his third win in the last five events.

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