Kevin Harvick to run in K&N West race at Sonoma Raceway

Leave a comment

After a weekend where Kyle Larson said NASCAR should encourage its Cup stars to race in a lower series to reconnect with fans, Kevin Harvick announced he’s doing just that later this year.

Harvick will compete in the June 24 K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma Raceway, the day before the Cup Series event at the California road course. He will drive the No. 4 for Jefferson Pitts Racing.

Harvick, who hasn’t competed in a K&N race since 2007 at Iowa Speedway, announced the news Tuesday night on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show “Happy Hours.”

While drivers like Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon have competed in the race in recent years to gain experience on the road course, Harvick is doing it just for the heck of it. He will make the start 19 years after he won a K&N race at what was then called Sears Point Raceway.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do more of and Sonoma was the first opportunity to go out and really just have fun, get some more laps and go to a race track that I’ve been racing at since the mid 90s,” Harvick said. “Honestly, I got tired of sitting around for two days because we go in on Saturday and usually all we do is qualify. Then you’re like, ‘All right, what am I going to do for the rest of the day?’ So I sit around and watch this race.

“I told (wife) DeLana, ‘I’m just going to race this race this year, just because I’m tired of sitting around and watching it. Because there’s a lot of competitors and friends that still run in the K&N West series. We’re going to have some fun and see if we can’t win a race.”

Harvick has made 22 K&N starts since 1996 and earned six wins, including his 1998 victory at Sonoma. He also made four Sonoma starts in NASCAR’s Southwest Series, earning a win in 2003.

“Many of the young kids are running, so we’re going to be the old guy that shows up,” Harvick said. “I have fun when I go do those events. You love to win and you want to go out and do that and be competitive. But really, it’s a series that gave me several breaks and several opportunities to showcase what I did as a kid. If we can go out there and have fun and bring the West series some exposure and be able to bring some attention, that would really be my main goal.”

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has made 16 starts on the road course in the Cup series, but it’s one of four active tracks he hasn’t won at. He has an average finish of 14.6 with four top fives.

John Hunter Nemechek earns first Xfinity Series win

Leave a comment

John Hunter Nemechek bounced back from two pit stop miscues in the last 50 laps to earn his first Xfinity Series win Saturday at Kansas Speedway.

Nemechek, 21, led the final 30 laps. That was after he went from fifth to first on the final restart with 32 laps to go.

The son of former Cup driver Joe Nemechek earned the win in his 15th start.

Nemechek had to pass Daniel Hemric, who finished second after leading 128 laps.

“It means a lot, especially at Kansas,” Nemechek told NBC. “(In) 2004, I forget how old I was. But dad swept the weekend in the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series. It’s pretty special.”

The top five was completed by Elliott Sadler, Shane Lee and Tyler Reddick.

Nemechek pitted with Hemric with 50 laps to go and slid through his pit box. He left pit road three seconds behind Hemric.

When the final caution waved with 36 laps to go, Nemechek had to pit twice to tighten lug nuts.

“When that caution came I knew we had a chance,” Nemechek told NBC. “Luckily Daniel and I raced each other hard and clean all day. We got the track position and this thing was unreal to the end.”

When Nemechek took the checkered flag, he led Hemric by roughly five seconds. Hemric said he had a vibration over the last 15 laps.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: John Hunter Nemechek

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Elliott Sadler earned his best finish since the July Daytona race (second) … Shane Lee placed fourth for his career-best finish … Tyler Reddick earned his first top five of the playoffs … Ryan Sieg placed ninth for his second top 10 of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Playoff contenders Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell were all involved in an eight-car wreck on Lap 1. Only Custer finished the race (26th) … Brandon Jones was eliminated via a one-car incident on the ensuing restart … After being involved in the Lap 1 crash, Spencer Gallagher was eliminated in one-car incident on Lap 26 … After Bell and Jones, Ryan Preece completed the Joe Gibbs Racing trifecta. He was involved in an incident on the last lap of Stage 2 when he was turned from contact with Joey Gase. Preece finished 21st.

NOTABLE: John Hunter Nemechek is the third driver to earn his first Xfinity win of the season (Ross Chastain, Spencer Gallagher).

WHAT’S NEXT: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 3. on NBCSN.

Video: Xfinity playoff contenders out after Lap 1 crash at Kansas

Leave a comment

Three of the eight playoff contenders were eliminated in a crash on the first lap of Saturday’s Xfinity race at Kansas Speedway, which opens the Round of 8.

Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Cole Custer were involved in a nine-car wreck as the field raced through Turn 2. Allgaier, Bell and Cindric were eliminated while Custer’s team was able to make repairs to his No. 00 Ford.

It began when Allgaier got loose and made contact with Bell.

“Just hate it for everybody that we took out on Lap 1. It’s uncalled for, ” Allgaier told NBC. “That one’s on me.”

Bell, who won this race last year, told NBC he “didn’t really see much of anything” as the wreck developed. “Just heartbroken. This is one of my favorite race tracks we go to. Especially after the run I had last year. This was the race I was really looking forward to when we started the year back in February.”

Allgaier earned his second DNF of the playoffs while Bell and Cindric earned their first.

“It was just a racing incident,” Cindric said. “You don’t really expect something that big to happen in front of you on the first lap. … It is unfortunate that it happened that early. Huge points implications on my end and the owners championship end. I have to put my head down the next couple weeks and figure it out.”

Non-playoff drivers Michael Annett, Ryan Truex, Spencer Gallagher and Chase Briscoe were also involved.

The race restarted on Lap 12. The field was immediately slowed by a one-car incident involving Brandon Jones on the backstretch.

Kurt Busch fastest in final Cup practice at Kansas

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kurt Busch led the way in the final practice session for Sunday’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver posted a top speed of 186.226 mph.

The top five was completed by Erik Jones (186.104 mph), Aric Almirola (185.842), Kyle Busch (185.471) and Paul Menard (185.446).

MORE: Aric Almirola fastest in Saturday’s early practice

There were no incidents in the session.

Joey Logano, who was 12th fastest, recorded the most laps with 67.

Kyle Busch had the best 10-lap average at 183.094 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Daniel Hemric wins Xfinity pole at Kansas Speedway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Daniel Hemric won the pole for today’s Xfinity Series race at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

Hemric claimed his fourth pole of the year with a top speed of 183.955 mph.

The top five was completed by Christopher Bell (182.784 mph), Justin Allgaier (182.426), Austin Cindric (182.254) and Brandon Jones. (182.254).

The top 10 was rounded out by Tyler Reddick, Ryan Preece, Shane Lee, Matt Tifft and Cole Custer.

In Round 2 John Hunter Nemechek qualified 13th. He was followed by Ryan Truex, Michael Annett, Ryan Reed, Spencer Gallagher and Ty Majeski.

Round 1 had a lengthy red flag with 1:05 left in it for fluid on the track. That allowed Reed, Truex and John Nemechek’s cars to get through inspection and make a lap.

Click here for the starting lineup.