Harvick Vaults into NASCAR Sprint Cup Round of 8, Winning Hollywood Casino 400
Heading into Kansas Speedway, Kevin Harvick’s survival in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase of 8 was teetering. He needed a win; it was his only way of escaping elimination. Benefiting from a late race restart, he jumped past Carl Edwards, coming though in the clutch to take his Stewart-Haas No. 4 Chevrolet team into the winner’s circle at the Hollywood Casino 400. This cleared his ticket past a perilous Talladega next weekend and directly into the Round of 8, starting in Martinsville in two weeks.
Much to Harvick’s relief, it was his second win at Kansas, fourth of the season and 35th overall. He now joins Charlotte winner Jimmie Johnson as one of the first Round of 8 winners, leaving only six spots open, just when he thought all was lost in the late stages of the race.
“These races are hard to win, and these guys are just so good at the details,” said Harvick, who won elimination races at Phoenix during his championship season in 2014 and at Dover last year. “You put their backs against the wall, and they get better. Really proud of them.
“I just got two good restarts against the No. 19 (Carl Edwards). 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 it, and that’s really the mind-set we go into every race in the Chase (with)—to go for it, and we did.”
Carl Edwards finished second, keeping his championship hopes alive. A late race yellow flag regrouped the field when he was leading with 30 laps to go.
“We ran well,” Edwards said philosophically. “That was really fun, getting to race up front. It is really tough for me to finish second here. It’s happened twice. Both of them were pretty painful. The bright side is that, yes, we raced up front. Got a lot of support from a lot of people here. I hope that they enjoyed that part of it.
“That last restart, Kevin and Jimmie just lined up at the bottom, and they just got far enough ahead, I couldn’t hang on the outside. Then I ended up having to race Kyle (Busch) really hard there for a few laps. It let Kevin get out ahead. But, man, we’ll just move forward. A day or two will pass, maybe the sting will wear off, and I’ll be more excited about the points situation going into Talladega, because that’s the bright side. We’ve got two decent races under our belts to go to Talladega with.”
Finishing third to tenth were Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, A.J. Allmendinger, pole-sitter, Matt Kenseth, and Kayse Kahne.
Among other Chase drivers, Martin Truex Jr. ran 11th, Kurt Busch 13th and Denny Hamlin 15th. From that trio, Truex and Busch remained inside the cut line, with Hamlin falling to 10th, six points behind Logano and Dillon.
The following are the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase of 12 unofficial standings, with only Talladega on the schedule to reach the Round of 8.
1 Jimmie Johnson (1 Win); 2 Kevin Harvick (1 Win); 3 Matt Kenseth +29; 4 Kyle Busch +27; 5 Carl Edwards +24; 6 Kurt Busch +17; 7 Martin Truex, Jr. + 13; 8. Joey Logano +0; 9 Austin Dillon -0; 10 Denny Hamlin -7; 11 Brad Keselowski -7; and 12 Chase Elliott -25.
Kyle Busch Wins Kansas Lottery 300 with Shake Ups in the Chase of 8
There were plenty of twists and turns in the NASCAR Xfinity series Kansas Lottery 300, leaving many of the Chasers in the Round of 8 in near jeopardy of elimination after the completion of the first of three events starting at the Kansas Speedway.
Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch, driving the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota No. 18, conquered the 1.5-mile oval for 150 circuits of the 200-lap event to win his 85th NASCAR Xfinity series race, third straight at Kansas, ninth of the season after winning the pole for the Kansas Lottery 300 earlier in the day.
“It was a hard-fought battle,” said Busch, who checked out in clear air. “Seemed like it was going to be easy for us. We had a super-fast car, and when we were out front, I could take it easy on those long runs and we could drive away.
“The car would turn so well. A lot of things were trying to work against us at the end of the race. We were able to persevere and do the right things and have lucky restarts and be in the right grooves and not get caught up in the melee that was happening.”
The top five were Busch, Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson.
With so much on the line in the battle for the championship, it was 35 laps to go after a restart that led Brandon Jones to tap Justin Allgaier sideways, causing a six-car wreck that also ended the day for Darrell Wallace, Jr., who crashed out in 33rd place. Allgaier made makeshift repairs to finish 14th and is tied with Erik Jones for the final transfer spot, with Texas and Phoenix comprising the Round of 8.
The contenders in the Chase had a couple more survivors of the day. One was Blake Koch, finishing ninth, and now third in the standings. Ryan Reed was 16th and is now sixth. Brendan Gaughan spun coming off turn four on lap 176, finishing 31st, while after that restart on lap 183, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon slammed together with Kyle Larson as the culprit in the incident, shaking up the points and sending Jones a lap down and into the pits for repairs. He finished 15th.
“He (Larson) said it was his fault,” Jones said after talking to Larson on pit road. “He owned up to it, got me ran over. It is what it is. He just said he got a good start and there was no hole there, nowhere to go with the run he had and just got into my left rear and turned us. It’s a shame; we both had fast cars.”
The NASCAR Xfinity points standings are as follows: 1 Elliott Sadler +12; 2 Daniel Suarez +12; 3 Blake Koch +5; 4 Justin Allgaier and 4 Erik Jones – tied with 6 Ryan Reed -2; 7 Brendan Gaughan -17; and Darrell Wallace, Jr. -18.
Now the NASCAR Xfinity series takes two weeks off before resuming at the Texas Motor Speedway for the running of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge on Saturday, Nov. 5, on NBC.