Kevin Harvick Continues Season Dominance At Michigan; Captures Fifth Win Of 2020by Hunter Thomas August 8, 2020 0 comments
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick continued his season dominance on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway as he swept all stages to win his fifth race of the year.
The Firekeepers Casino 400 had a string of cautions towards the end of the race that set the field up for a NASCAR Overtime finish. On the final restart of the afternoon, Harvick lined up on the outside of the front row with Michigan’s own, Brad Keselowski alongside of him on the bottom lane.
Unlike previous restarts, none of the front row starters had help from behind. Harvick and Keselowski raced side-by-side down the backstretch, and thanks to a push from Chase Elliott, Harvick was able to complete the pass by the time the field had reached Turn 4. Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford took the white flag and held on for another lap to claim his fifth win of the season. With 54 career wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, Harvick is now times 11th on the all-time wins list with NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty.
“Yeah, the restarts were obviously a handful but our Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang was really fast today and we held on for the long run and would really go on the short run and did everything we needed it to do,” Harvick said.
On Saturday, Harvick won both, Stages 1 and 2 as he led a race high of 92 laps. In addition to his fifth win, Harvick leads all drivers in the standings with an impressive 14 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes in 21 starts. To put into perspective how impressive Harvick’s performance has been this season, Hamlin, who is the only other driver to win five times this season trails Harvick by 127 points in the standings.
“We are a week to week team,” Harvick said. “We talked about this years ago. We want to go to the track and worry about one week at a time. We want to be competitive and win as many races as we can and see where it falls in the end. These guys are awesome and when we come to Michigan to ride a car like that is unbelievable.”
Keselowski held on to finish second, but the driver of the Team Penske No. 2 Discount Tire Ford just didn’t have anything for Harvick in the final three laps.
“He is just super fast in the corners and the straightaway,” Keselowski said. “He was definitely the best car out here today. We put a good effort to kind of maximize our day and that is what we did, finished second. Proud of everyone on the Discount Tire Ford Mustang team. We will go back to work on it and hopefully find a little bit more for the race tomorrow.”
Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney finished third and fourth respectively.
Kyle Busch was in contention to win in the final laps but close, hard racing with Harvick got the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Fudge Brownie Toyota out of shape, and he had to chase the car up the track in Turn 4 on lap 111. Busch finished fifth.
“I don’t know,” Busch said. “Definitely got loose. Don’t know whether it was contact or just air. Definitely got loose and had to chase it and catch it. Thankfully, kept it out of the fence. We were able to salvage a fifth. Felt like we had a good second-place car today. The M&M’s Fudge Brownie Toyota Camry was fast. Just nowhere near his (Kevin Harvick) level of fast. The 4 (Harvick) car was just driving away and I was running wide open and couldn’t even draft with him down the straightaways.”
Hamlin, Elliott, Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-10.
Throughout the afternoon, there were nine caution for 43 laps. Only three cautions were for multicar accidents.
On lap 94, the caution flew after contact with Chris Buescher send John Hunter Nemechek through the frotnstretch grass.
On lap 144, Ryan Preece slapped the outside wall after contact from Tyler Reddick in Turn 2.
A red flag was displayed for 5 minutes and 45 seconds during the eighth caution of the day after Cole Custer made heavy impact with the outside wall in Turn 3.
Contact from Christopher Bell turned Austin Dillon into to Michael McDowell. Dillon then ricochet into Ryan Newman who had nowhere to go. The caution came out on lap 155, and it’s the incident that set the field up for the NASCAR Overtime finish.
The NASCAR Cup Series will compete in the second race of the doubleheader weekend on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Live coverage of the Consumers Energy 400 will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images