Brad Keselowski slipped in front when Kevin Harvick got into a traffic jam. Then Harvick got mad.
Keselowski took the checkered flag in Saturday’s Nationwide race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway while Harvick fumed about an inexperienced driver who got in his way even though she had been lapped.
“It’s somebody who shouldn’t be on the racetrack, who has no clue what they’re doing in the race car,” Harvick said, directing his anger at Amber Cope. “She wants to be Danica Patrick, but she can’t hold her helmet.”
The 28-year-old Cope is one of the twin nieces of Spanaway’s Derrike Cope, who won the Daytona 500 in 1990. Her only other race in the Nationwide series was in May at the Iowa Speedway where she was sent off the track on the 203rd lap of the 250-lap race for driving too slowly.
Keselowski capitalized Saturday when Harvick was forced to slow down with about 21 laps left in the 200-mile race at the one-mile oval in Loudon, N.H., pulling ahead and winning by about six car lengths.
“I caught a little bit of a break in traffic,” Keselowski said, “but that’s the way it goes.”
The pole-sitter had lost the lead to Harvick at about the 150th lap when Patrick’s Chevrolet bumped Jason Bowles’ Toyota, bringing out the yellow flag. When the race restarted, Harvick shot in front.
Would Keselowski have won if Harvick and Cope hadn’t slowed down like a pair of rush-hour commuters?
“There’s no way of really knowing that. The odds were probably not in my favor,” Keselowski said. “You catch good breaks and bad breaks. It was a bad break for us when the yellow came out to begin with.”
Harvick couldn’t figure out where Cope was going as he tried to get by her while she was far out of contention.
“You’ve got to make a decision off of what direction the car was going, and (her car) was going up (the high side of) the race track, and I committed to the bottom and it committed to the bottom, too,” he said.
Austin Dillon finished third, followed by Sam Hornish Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne.
Kahne led 43 laps, second only to Keselowski’s 131.
NASCAR trucks series points leader Timothy Peters won Saturday night’s race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, notching his first victory of the season. Ron Hornaday Jr. was second, followed by Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Justin Lofton. … Eric Holmes passed Michael Self for the lead on lap 131 and held on to win the NAPA Auto Parts 150, a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe. Derek Thorn finished third.