Kevin Harvick Hits a Walk-Off Home Run Into the Round of 8by Kyle Pokrefky October 16, 2016 0 comments
KANSAS CITY — Kevin Harvick entered Sunday’s Chase race at Kansas Speedway needing a strong run to improve his Chase standing.
Entering the race as the 12th and final seed, the driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet was eight markers outside of a transfer position – not entirely in danger, but in a position he would much rather not be in.
Harvick fully delivered on Sunday though, coming home as the victor of the Hollywood Casino 400.
Leading 74 of 267 laps, Harvick successfully fended off hard charges by Carl Edwards and Joey Logano to earn his fourth win of the season and the 35th of his career.
With his win, Harvick is now fully locked into the Round of 8 and can breathe easy heading into next Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I just got two good restarts against the No. 19 [Carl Edwards],” Harvick said of the run to the finish. “He didn’t have a car quite as close to him, and I was able to break that draft before I got to the middle of one and two and get away from him, so that was pretty awesome. I just needed to go for and that is really the mindset we go into every race in the Chase was to go for, and we did.
“I’ve done a poor job the first half of the year. We struggled with some ratios and timing. We came up with some ratios that really fit what we were doing, and the processes and some other things and it has really paid off twice in the Chase.”
Edwards, a native of Columbia, Mo., recorded his third career runner-up finish at his hometown track in the Sprint Cup Series. While the finish leaves him in a strong position entering the cutoff to get into the Round of 8, he says
“It’s really tough for me to finish second here – it’s happened twice, both of them pretty painful,” Edwards stated. “The bright side is that we raced up front and got a lot of support from a lot of people here and hopefully they enjoyed that part of it. That last restart Kevin and Jimmie [Johnson] got lined up on the bottom and they just got far enough ahead that I couldn’t hang on the high side. Then I raced Kyle [Busch] really hard there for a few laps and that left Kevin get out ahead.
“Man, we’ll just forward, a day or two pass and this thing will wear off and I’ll be more excited about the points situation entering Talladega. That’s the bright side, we have two decent races under our belt to go to Talladega with.”
Crossing the finish line behind the top-three in the top-10 were Johnson, Busch, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, A.J. Allmendinger, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne.
Chase drivers to finish outside of the top-10 were Martin Truex Jr. in 11th, Kurt Busch in 13th, Denny Hamlin in 15th, Chase Elliott in 31st and Brad Keselowski in 38th.
Elliott, already outside of the transfer line entering Kansas, had multiple issues with left rear tires throughout the day that relegated the leading Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to his result.
Keselowski, a driver who entered Kansas in a strong position in the Chase, spun on Lap 189 through the frontstretch grass – inflicting heavy damage on the bumper of his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford. His team’s attempt to revive their car and return it to the race track was short-lived as his returning Team Penske machine began to billow smoke as he pulled onto the pit lane to return to the track.
The Chase standings heading into the Round of 12’s cutoff features Johnson and Harvick automatically being locked in to the next round with their respective Charlotte and Kansas wins.
Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Edwards, Kurt Busch, Truex Jr. and Logano hold the remaining six transfer positions into the next round.
Dillon is tied with Logano in points yet loses out on a tiebreaker, placing him ninth in the standings. Below him, Hamlin, Keselowski and Elliott are the drivers on the outside looking in heading into the cutoff.
Hamlin, Keselowski and Elliott respectively sit seven, eight and 26 points out of transfer positions heading into the Alabama 500 at Talladega.
Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images