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


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

Cup starting lineup at New Hampshire has Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch on front row

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Rivals Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch will share the front row for Sunday’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Keselowski won his 15th career pole – and first since August 2017 – on Friday. He will have Busch start next to him.

MORE: Cup starting lineup

The rivals have had numerous run-ins throughout the their career.

Kurt Busch, who won last weekend at Kentucky, qualified third and is followed by Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.

Three drivers will start at the rear: Denny Hamlin (backup), Alex Bowman (backup) and Ryan Newman (backup).

Brad Keselowski wins Cup pole at New Hampshire

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Brad Keselowski scored his first Cup pole since 2017, taking the top spot Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Keselowski topped the field with a lap of 136.384 mph. This is Keselowski’s 15th career Cup pole and first since Michigan in August 2017, a span of 68 races.

Keselowski’s run denied Toyota its first pole of the season. Keselowski will be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (136.311 mph).

MORE: Cup qualifying results

Kurt Busch, who won last weekend at Kentucky, will start third after a lap of 136.238 mph. Erik Jones qualified fourth with a lap of 136.189 mph.

Jones’ performance is part of a promising week for him. He stated Friday that he is “close” to signing an extension with Joe Gibbs Racing. Jones’ contract expires after this season.

Ryan Blaney completed the top five with a lap of 136.116 mph. Martin Truex Jr. qualified sixth at 136.082 mph, and Matt DiBenedetto qualified a career-best seventh at 135.990 mph. DiBenedetto’s previous best Cup start was ninth in this year’s Daytona 500.

Alex Bowman had a driveshaft failure on his qualifying run and did not complete a lap. He will start at the rear of the field.

“Just a big boom going down the front straightaway and smoke and oil everywhere,” Bowman told NBCSN.

Bowman will go to a backup car.

Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman also will start at the rear of the field because they both went to backup cars after separate incidents late in Friday’s only Cup practice session.

Andy Seuss (qualified 35th) and Austin Theriault (36th) both will be making their Cup debut Sunday.

Daniel Hemric qualified 19th. HIs car failed inspection twice before qualifying and a crew member was ejected.


Erik Jones ‘close’ to re-signing after meeting with Joe Gibbs this week

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LOUDON, N.H. – After meeting with team owner Joe Gibbs this week, Erik Jones believes he finally is “close” to signing an extension with the team after a few months of negotiations.

“We’ve had some good meetings, positive meetings, so we’re moving in the right direction,” Jones said during Friday afternoon’s qualifying session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “I’d love to get it done here soon. We’ve had good meetings between my guys and JGR. I’ve had good meetings with Coach talking about it and moving forward. I know I keep saying it, but I feel like we’re pretty close to getting it done.”

The uncertainty for the 2020 season seemingly has been no distraction in 2019 for Jones, who believes he is close to ending a yearlong winless streak. He has notched six top 10s in the past nine races to move into the 16th and final provisional spot for the playoffs with seven races remaining in the regular season.

The Byron, Michigan, native said he told Gibbs “I want to get (the extension) done. We both want to get it done and move forward and stop worrying about it and stop focusing on it, but we’re close. Hopefully here soon.”

An extension for Jones would mean JGR has a full lineup of four drivers signed for 2020 and shift the focus to what is next for Xfinity driver Christopher Bell, who is under contract to JGR next season.

“I think you know as much as I do,” Bell said Friday morning when asked about what series he will race next year. “Actually, you probably know a little bit more than I do. Ultimately, it’s not up to me. I can’t make the decisions, so I’m just along for the ride.”

Bell indicated his desire to move to Cup last season, and a Leavine Family Racing Toyota could be an option if JGR wants to farm him out for 2020 in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I learned early on in my career that a race car driver is only as good as the equipment,” Bell said. “I definitely want to make sure that I’m in equipment that can win.”

Jeffrey Earnhardt releases his remaining races for 2019

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Jeffrey Earnhardt announced his schedule for the rest of the season Friday.

He is scheduled to run six Xfinity races and one Cup race the rest of this season.

His Xfinity races will be Mid-Ohio (Aug. 10), Bristol (Aug. 16), Road America (Aug. 24), Darlington (Aug. 31), ISM Raceway (Nov. 9) and Miami (Nov. 16). He’ll drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity car at Mid-Ohio, Road America, ISM Raceway and Miami. He’ll drive the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing car at Bristol and Darlington.

He’ll also drive the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing Cup car at Talladega on Oct. 13.