Kevin Harvick Holds Off Kyle Busch At Bristol Motor Speedway For Ninth Win Of Seasonby Hunter Thomas September 20, 2020 0 comments
BRISTOL, Tenn. – After an intense battle with Kyle Busch in the closing laps of Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick prevailed to win his ninth NASCAR Cup Series race of the season.
As the two NASCAR Playoff contenders battled through lapped traffic, Busch was able to get around Harvick on lap 459. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Skittles Toyota led the next 10 laps before he got held up in lapped traffic, and Harvick retook the lead. Busch kept pace with Harvick, but he was unable to make a pass for the win. Harvick, driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Busch Light Ford, took the checkered flag to win two of the three Round of 16 races.
“Yeah, we had just a really, really good Busch Light Ford Mustang tonight,” Harvick said. “I got it a little dinged up with 50 or 60 laps to go. I knocked a hole in the nose and made it a little too tight through the center of the corner, but turned into a heck of a race, in and out of traffic there with Kyle. He got me once pinned up there in traffic and I was able to do the same thing back and then hold the lead there until the end. Just really proud of everybody for everything that they’ve done all year and just continuing to fight, and there’s not many races that you can win that are like winning here at the Bristol night race. That was a lot of fun.”
While the runner-up effort was Busch’s best finish since Atlanta in June, he was not too pleased with the way lapped traffic raced the leaders on Saturday night.
“You always try to win races clean,” Busch said when talking about battling Harvick for the lead. “You always try to race hard and race clean and get the job done right. Yeah, I mean, if that lap car wasn’t there, I would have blown it in on the outside or the inside and maybe we would have banged each other’s doors or whatever and had a greater finish to the checkered, but some of them dips‑‑‑ kids don’t know what the hell they’re doing or where they’re at and can’t stay out of the way. Nothing like a Gase and a Smithley.”
Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and Aric Almirola completed the top-five, while Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Ryan Preece and Michael McDowell rounded out the top-10.
There were 14 lead changes among 8 drivers. Harvick led a race high of 226 laps. Busch was out in front of the field for 159 laps.
Chase Elliott won Stage 1, and Busch won Stage 2.
Championship hopes for Cole Custer, William Byron, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto came to an end as they didn’t advance to the Round of 12.
Byron’s night came to an end, when he crashed on lap 234. The Hendrick Motorsports driver had earned stage points after finishing eighth in Stage 1. Byron was running 10th at the time of the accident.
Blaney’s 13th-place finish, DiBenedetto’s 19th-place finish and Custer’s 23rd-place effort weren’t high enough finishes for each driver to advance in the NASCAR Playoffs.
Drivers advancing to the Round of 12 include, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch.
The first race of the Round of 12 will be held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, September 27. Live coverage of the South Point 400 will broadcast on NBCSN and PRN at 7 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images