Nothing slows Kevin Harvick down; wins 7th points race of year

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Kevin Harvick swept both stages and won his series-high seventh points race of the season Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

Harvick’s 44th career Cup win tied him with Bill Elliott for 17th the all-time win list.

“The most important thing is winning races and getting all the points you can to position yourself well for Homestead,” Harvick told NBCSN. “That’s what we’ve been doing all year.”

Harvick has a series-high 40 playoff points.

MORE: Race results 

MORE: Points report

This is the third time this season that Harvick has swept both stages and won the race. He also did it at Las Vegas and Dover.

Harvick has finished runner-up seven times at Michigan, including June’s rain-shortened race. HIs victory Sunday is his second at the 2-mile track. He won there in August 2010.

Brad Keselowski finished second. Kyle Busch was third. Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon was fourth after having a tire issue coming to the last lap and losing a shot at a runner-up finish.

Stage 1 winner: Kevin Harvick (11th stage win of the year)

Stage 2 winner: Kevin Harvick (12th stage win of the year)

How Kevin Harvick won: He had the dominant car, leading 108 of the 200 laps. He had the strongest car in the June race but finished second in the rain-shortened race. Nothing got in his way this time.

Who had a good race: Although a tire issue caused him to fall from second to fourth on the last lap, Austin Dillon still scored his first top-five finish since his Daytona 500 win. … Brad Keselowski tied his best finish of the season with his runner-up result. … Ryan Blaney‘s fifth-place finish was his second top-five in the last 16 races. … Chase Elliott placed ninth and has placed in the top 10 in all six starts at Michigan.

Who had a bad race: Ty Dillon’s race ended early when he struck a battery or tungsten on track that sent him into the wall. He finished 38th. … Erik Jones spun twice before finishing 13th. … Martin Truex Jr. ran out of fuel before the end of Stage 2 in a gamble that kept him from having a chance to win. He also spun early in the race after contact from William Byron. Truex placed 14th. … Jimmie Johnson finished 28th, the second consecutive race he’s placed outside the top 25.

Notable: This is only the second time in the last 20 seasons that a driver had seven wins through 23 races (Kyle Busch had eight through 23 in 2008).

Quote of the day: “This is my 18th year and I can promise you this is a career year,” Kevin Harvick told NBCSN. “Never have I experienced anything like this and so we’re going to enjoy it, we’re going to bask in it and we’re going to do everything that comes with it and however it shakes out, it’s going to be a great year.”

Next: The series goes to Bristol for the night race at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 18 on NBCSN

Tyler Ankrum joins DGR-Crosley to contend for Rookie Truck honors

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Tyler Ankrum will move to the Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2019 to compete for Rookie of the Year honors with DGR-Crosley, the driver and team announced on Twitter.

In 2018, Ankrum won the K&N East Championship with DGR-Crosley through four wins, nine top fives and 12 top 10s in 14 starts. Ankrum won three consecutive races at Thompson (CT) Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway during the summer. His other victory came in May at South Boston (VA) Speedway.

Ankrum made two starts in the Truck series last year – scoring a top 10 in one of those races. He finished sixth at ISM Raceway.

“Taking the next step of my racing career is mind blowing,” Ankrum said in a tweet. “And I’m lucky enough to do it again with DGR-Crosley and Toyota Racing in 2019.”

Last year’s K&N Championship came in his rookie campaign in that series.

 

Vote for best 2018 Cup paint schemes

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It’s time to take stock of the 2018 Cup season.

That means voting in the best paint schemes of the year tournament.

The NBC Sports tournament has now reached its final four.

Here’s the bracket so far.

Bubba Wallace, RPM reinlist US Air Force as two-race sponsor

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Richard Petty Motorsports will continue to receive support from the United States military. On Friday, they announced the US Air Force will continue as a primary sponsor in 2019 as well as a major associate sponsor throughout the season on Bubba Wallace’s No. 43.

The two races for which the Air Force will be the primary sponsor are Saturday, July 6 at Daytona International Speedway (4th of July weekend) and Sunday, Nov. 10 (Veteran’s Day weekend) at ISM Raceway. Last year during his rookie campaign, Wallace finished in the top 15 in both of those races. He was 14th in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona and 10th at ISM.

“The Air Force continues to see benefits from our partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and driver, Bubba Wallace,” said Major Ross McKnight, Chief, Air Force National Events Branch at Air Force Recruiting Service in a press release. “Wallace Jr. and his personality align well with our target audience’s interests and the Air Force’s commitment to teamwork and technology. The combination of Bubba Wallace and the iconic No. 43 provides a continuing sponsorship opportunity that reflects our Air Force core values of Integrity, Service and Excellence, as well as has a positive impact on generating public awareness about the U.S. Air Force, our people and our mission.

“Like NASCAR, much of our work is based on science, technology, engineering and math principles combined with teamwork and training. This sponsorship is a great way to highlight that connection.”

Last year, Wallace visited four Air Force bases. He participated in drills at each and flew in an F-16 with the 77th Fighter Squadron “Gamblers” at Shaw AFB in South Carolina.

“I was really impressed with all the different aspects of the Air Force, and the different opportunities they offer,” said Wallace Jr. “I was able to visit different bases and see the Airmen in action and actually participate myself. That gets me excited and then I’m able to talk to inspiring students who are looking at a career in the Air Force. I’m pretty humbled to represent the Air Force.”

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John Hunter Nemechek, Chase Briscoe approved to run for Xfinity Rookie of the Year

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NASCAR has approved John Hunter Nemechek and Chase Briscoe to compete for the Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year title in 2019, NBC Sports has confirmed.

Nemechek made 18 Xfinity starts in 2018 with Chip Ganassi Racing while Briscoe made 17 with Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Fenway Racing.

Nemechek will compete for GMS Racing in the No. 23 Chevrolet. Briscoe will drive the No. 98 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.

When Nemechek was announced on Dec. 6 as joining GMS Racing, a team press release said he would compete for Rookie of the Year. But a NASCAR spokesperson said his eligibility had not been decided on at the time.

The Rookie of the Year title was not mentioned in SHR’s Nov. 27 press release about Briscoe going full-time.

The Xfinity rookie field next year will include Nemechek, Briscoe, Noah Gragson in JR Motorsports’ No. 1 Chevrolet and Justin Haley in Kaulig Racing’s No. 11 Chevrolet.

Briscoe said in an Q&A on Reddit he was “honestly surprised” he was approved.

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