DOVER, Del. – Considering the effect weather can play during the first quarter of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, drivers know they are at the mercy of Mother Nature.
In March, the STP 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway was pushed from a Sunday to Monday because of snow.
On Sunday, the threat of rain had hovered over Dover International Speedway all day, but the AAA 400 Drive for Autism started and then completed the first two stages.
It was an official race when the sky opened up and stopped the racing under a red flag with 80 laps remaining. The delay lasted 41 minutes.
When you have the best car, however, it makes obstacles like the weather, changing track conditions and opponents easier to overcome.
Kevin Harvick went into the weekend in Delaware with what most people considered the best car. He didn't disappoint.
Driving the No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick continued his dominance of the Cup Series by taking all the stages and winning the 400 Drive for Autism.
It was Harvick's fourth victory in the first 11 races. During the 2017 season, he won just twice.
"It's actually a lot harder because you don't want to screw it up," Harvick said of knowing you have a good car. "I felt we had a really good car from the time we unloaded. You could tell that from where we qualified, which isn't normally my strong point [at Dover].
"We had three good practices and everything kind of fell into place. When they dropped the green flag, [the car] was definitely still good. It was one of those weekends when the car was spot-on from the time we got here.
"I feel we're playoff racing on a weekly basis and if you're going to win a bunch of races, that's what you have to do."
It was the first time a Ford has reached victory lane at Dover since Matt Kenseth's car did it in May 2011. Harvick's teammate Clint Bowyer finished second on Sunday.
"We had a fast car today, but the Fords were just in a different league," said Daniel Suarez, who finished third.
After the rain delay, Harvick took the lead from Bowyer with 62 laps to go and pulled away for an impressive 7.24-second victory.
"I was holding my own even as loose as I was," Bowyer said. "I was going for the win, but I knew you just can't buzz the tires like that on a track like this.
"When you're loose getting into the corner and those guys get behind you, you're in trouble. I would say speed-wise, sheer speed-wise, [Harvick] was a little bit better."
Although he is third in the driver standings because he did not finish the Auto Club 400 in California, Harvick has the most wins, has led the most laps (741) and has the most top-five finishes (eight). He also has the most playoff points with 19.
Harvick has just been the most dominant racer for a powerful Stewart-Haas team that now has posted five victories – Bowyer won at Martinsville – after winning three in 2017. Their Ford Fusions hold three of the top six places and four of the top 11.
Harvick-Bowyer was the fourth 1-2 sweep for Stewart-Haas, and with Kurt Busch finishing fifth the team placed three in the top five for the first time this season.