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Patient Harvick wins at Fontana

Mon., March 28, 2011, midnight

Kevin Harvick isn’t one of those drivers who jumps out front and stays there all the way to the checkers.

He’s more of a lingerer and closer, someone who’s able to stay close to the front then make his move at just the right time.

Harvick was at his pass-at-the-end best Sunday, overtaking California king Jimmie Johnson on the final turn at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., to win after trailing the entire race.

“I wish we could just go out there and wear ’em out one day, just not have to worry about waiting until the last lap,” Harvick said. “It does kind of seem we wait until the last moments to really get going. It’s probably somewhat of a bad habit I have, but I guess it worked out.”

Kyle Busch had the dominant car most of the day and led a race-high 151 laps, including off a restart with nine laps left.

Johnson, a five-time winner at Fontana, had the late burst, chasing down Busch for the lead with two laps left.

Harvick, as he always seems to, nailed the finish.

He gradually worked his way to the front, pulling up behind Johnson after getting past Busch.

Taking advantage of a small gap to the outside, Harvick made his move on Johnson going into Turn 3, then completed it coming around Turn 4. Ahead going down the last straightway, he took the checkered flag for the 15th time in his career.

IndyCar

Two-time defending series champion Dario Franchitti won IndyCar’s season opener, showing he’s once again the one to beat in open-wheel racing.

Franchitti took the lead early Sunday and was hardly challenged in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.). The Scottish driver was nearly perfect for 100 laps on the scenic, 1.8-mile street course, beating pole-sitter Will Power to the finish line by more than seven seconds.

Tony Kanaan, the 2004 series champion who joined his new team a week ago, held off Simona de Silvestro over the final few laps for third. De Silvestro enjoyed her best finish in 18 career starts.

Danica Patrick was 12th. She was penalized one spot on the final lap for making “avoidable contact.”

Formula One

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel made an ideal start to his Formula One title defense, driving a flawless race to outpace McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and win the season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne.

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was a surprise third to claim his first podium finish.



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