By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
RICHMOND, Va. -- As soon as Kevin Harvick took the lead in Friday night's ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway, it was over.
Harvick passed pole-sitter Brian Scott for the top spot on Lap 48 of 250 and led all but one lap thereafter in cruising to a dominant victory over JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who fell one position short in his bid to win three straight races.
In an event that was delayed more than three hours by rain, Harvick led 202 laps in posting his series-best seventh win at Richmond, his first of the season and the 41st of his career.
Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Kyle Larson and Scott. Elliott extended his series lead to 19 points of over Regan Smith, who finished eighth.
The victory was the fourth in eight NNS races for JR Motorsports.
During a green-flag run that lasted 104 laps after a competition caution called on Lap 41, Harvick built a lead of more than eight seconds, an advantage that was reduced to slightly more than four seconds after a long cycle of green-flag pit stops.
A caution on Lap 151 for debris in Turn 4, however, reset the field and allowed all lead-lap cars (15 at the time) to come to pit road for tires and fuel. First out of the pit after the stops, Harvick led the field to green on Lap 162, with Elliott second and Scott third.
Harvick pulled away after the restart, with Elliott in close pursuit, and those two drivers ran less than a half-second apart until contact from Ryan Reed's Ford sent Dylan Kwasniewski's Chevrolet into the Turn 4 wall to bring out the fourth caution of the night.
Harvick and Elliott were 1-2 off pit road for a restart on Lap 197, and though another quick caution on the restart lap -- when Regan Smith tangled with Elliott Sadler in Turn 2 -- slowed the field for the fifth time, Harvick was just as dominant after a restart on Lap 204.
Gradually, Harvick pulled away from his teammate during the final 47-lap green-flag run and arrived at the finish line 2.069 seconds ahead of Elliott.