Harvick dropped to the inside of Busch, passed him with just over nine laps to go and held on through an abbreviated final restart to win the rain-delayed and caution-filled trucks race Monday before a very sparse crowd at Martinsville Speedway.
"Every lap the pressure just needed to go up a little bit more and a little bit more," Harvick said of Busch, who had led for 139 laps. "I was able to get to his bumper there and get him up about a half a groove, and I got up under him. ... I didn't want to wreck him, but I knew it was time to start applying the pressure pretty heavily."
Harvick's pass came after one failed attempt to take the lead and several laps running his Chevrolet right on the bumper of Busch's Toyota at the Kroger 250 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Once he got to the inside, the two dueled side-by-side to the flag stand.
After a crash brought out the 13th of 14 cautions, Harvick outran Ron Hornaday Jr. on the restart on Lap 249 until another crash allowed him to coast to the victory under a caution.
In all, 14 yellow flags slowed the pace for 80 laps.
Even before the last caution, Harvick said, he felt comfortable as Hornaday's boss that the driver with a reputation for being aggressive when fighting for a lead would behave.
"I knew in that situation he knew he wasn't losing anything," Harvick said of the truck series regular. "Obviously, he wants to win, but he wasn't losing anything by having me in front of him. He had all the competitors points-wise that he needed behind him."
The victory was the fourth for Harvick in 97 truck series starts, and Hornaday joked that Harvick is wrong to think the employer-employee relationship carries onto the track.
"I didn't care who it was" up front, Hornaday said. "I was too busy watching [Mike] Skinner lay back on me so I looked in the mirror to see how far back he was and Kevin took off."
"I was waiting for [Harvick and Busch] to wreck each other, and then you and I were going to have some old times," Skinner told Hornaday after the race. "We were going to have some fun."
Busch, the series points leader entering the race, was forced to pit after losing the lead when he drove over the line that obligates a driver to visit pit road. He finished 17th.
Clearly unhappy with NASCAR's ruling, made after Busch crossed the line while trying to use the inside wall to stop a fender from rubbing his left front tire, Busch climbed from his truck, ran down pit road and climbed over the outside wall and out of the track.
Busch, who won two of the first three races, remained the points leader by 38 over Todd Bodine, who ran in the top 10 for most of the day but crashed twice late and finished 18th.
The event, rained out Saturday, attracted only a few thousand fans.
"The biggest fun was when you walk down the hill from the motor home and see all the big haulers leave with all the souvenirs and still see these fans sitting in the stands to watch us race," Hornaday said. "If it wasn't for the fans, we wouldn't be able to do this."