Did Kevin Harvick just do that? Yup!
After winning the last 2 races in the NASCAR Cup Series – Atlanta and Las Vegas, and stirring up a mess of controversy with the latter, Kevin Harvick arrived at one of his best tracks looking to prove himself to the entire racing community.
The first segment of the race consisted of 75 laps, in which there was one caution on Lap 24 for Corey Lajoie‘s car smoking on the back straightaway. This yellow flag served as the competition caution, which was originally scheduled for 10 laps later. At the end of the first stage, Kyle Busch brought home the extra playoff point with Kevin Harvick following closely in second.
The second stage kicked off with Kyle Busch remaining in the lead. The yellow flag was displayed on Lap 121 for the #42 of Kyle Larson, who had run strong and led several laps in Stage 1. Suddenly, Larson’s Chevy got loose and wheel-hopped, causing the #42 to spin onto the entrance of pit road. Larson didn’t sustain damage and continued the race, where he went on to finish 18th.
The caution flag flew again with 4 to go when the right front tire of Chris Buescher‘s #37 Camaro went down causing him to hit the wall in Turn 4. As the caution came so late in the stage, the majority of front-runners opted to pit and get fresh tires. Those who were running mid-pack decided to gamble and stay out of the pits for the one-lap shootout. As a result, Kyle Busch’s older brother, Kurt, got the stage victory.
The third and final stage started off smoothly, with Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick trading the lead back and forth. That came to an end on Lap 190 when something broke in the #21 car of Paul Menard. The handling of his Wood Brothers’ Ford snapped and backed into the wall in Turn 2. Menard was out of the race and went on to finish 36th.
When the race went back green, it stayed that way. Without any more cautions, it was up to the drivers to make green-flag pit stops and fight for each and every position. With approximately 70 laps to go, an intense 4-way battle for the lead ensued with Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott. Eventually, however, all four drivers had to make a pit stop and the struggle was on. Elliott, in the #9 Chevrolet, cycled out of the pits as the highest placed car to be serviced. But this didn’t last long as Harvick passed Elliott for third place, and it ultimately proved to be the winning move when the two cars ahead had to come to pit road. After that, Harvick put some space between himself and the No. 9, as well as the No. 18, and drove away for his ninth career win at ISM Raceway.
Kevin Harvick won his third straight race this season. This was followed by Kyle Busch in second place and Chase Elliott in third. Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr rounded out the top 5.
Catch the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway next week for the last race of the #NASCARgoeswest sweep. Get your tickets HERE