After the last nine Cup races ended with nine different winners, Kevin Harvick finally snapped that mark with his win in Sunday’s Consumer’s Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
It was Harvick’s second win of the season and the 47th of his Cup career. His other win of 2019 came three races ago at New Hampshire. He also successfully defended his win at Michigan a year ago, as well.
With 18 laps to go, Harvick passed Joey Logano for the lead and began to pull away. Harvick didn’t need to save fuel like several other drivers had to do in the closing laps, as crew chief Rodney Childers told Harvick he was two laps to the good with 13 laps remaining.
“Winning races is what it’s all about,” Harvick told NBCSN’s Marty Snider on the frontstretch after climbing from his car. “We just can’t do it without all you guys (the fans) and getting a win for Ford.”
When asked if his team is starting to peak at the right time, Harvick replied, “We really got off on the wrong foot as far as where we needed to be on the cars, and it’s been kind of an uphill battle really all year to get where we needed to be. The cars have been running a lot better as we’ve got into the last two months.
“We’ve had a lot of things that we’ve had to overcome to get to this point. But it’s kind of like last year; we started off on fire, we won eight races and then didn’t win the championship. In the send you want to win that championship, and hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”
Harvick had to overcome an early-race flat right front tire issue that forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop, making it to pit road with no damage being incurred on his car as it made its way around the two-mile oval. Harvick’s car took only two right-side tires and astute fuel management on succeeding stops helped get the No. 4 to victory lane.
Logano hoped to have one last shot at Harvick but had to pit with three laps to go for a splash of fuel, ending his chances of a strong finish (Logano finished 17th). Denny Hamlin then moved up to finish second.
Kyle Larson finished third, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Daniel Suarez. Truex’s finish was significant in that he was forced to start the race from the back of the field due to failing pre-race inspection twice. Even so, Truex rallied back to win Stage 1 and finish fourth.
“We lost track position for the start of Stage 3, restarted 19th and lost some spots, got going a little bit and got some back and then another restart got in the wrong lane and lost some more,” Truex, making the 500th start of his Cup career, told NBCSN. “The track position deal really hurt us but we just had to pick them off one-by-one and of course fuel mileage helped us get some more.”
STAGE 1 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr. (after starting at the back of the field for failing pre-race inspection twice).
STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch.
Playoff update: Even though he finished 37th, Clint Bowyer maintains the 16th and final playoff-eligible spot with three races remaining before the start of the playoffs. Bowyer holds a six-point edge over Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson is 18th (12 points behind Bowyer), followed by Paul Menard (-53) and Chris Buescher (-73).
“We changed tires (after Stage 2), made a little adjustment and I was back up in the top-five,” Suarez told NBCSN. “We just have to be calm and do our thing. Hopefully we can be mistake-free in the next few weeks and hopefully burn some rubber soon (after a victory).”
Who else had a good day: By grabbing second place late in the race, Denny Hamlin continued his recent run of success. Hamlin has five consecutive top-five finishes in his last five races, including a win at Pocono, second at New Hampshire and now Michigan, and third at Watkins Glen. “The fastest car won the race, speed-wise,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “We had a great car today, just came up one spot short again.” … Ryan Preece earned his best finish and his first top-10 since he was third at Talladega.
Who had a bad day: After making contact with the wall Jimmie Johnson had tire issues in the first stage that cost him valuable time with an unexpected pit stop. Johnson had to come back on pit road on Lap 44, leaving him four laps down at that point. Johnson finished 34th, his third finish of 30th or worse in the last five races. … Clint Bowyer had a good day going until he wrecked early in Stage 3 after contact with Paul Menard. Bowyer finished 37th.
What’s next: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, Saturday, August 17, Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
We’ll have more information including driver quotes, results and updated standings shortly. Please check back.