Kevin Harvick roars to second win of season, holds off Hamlin at Michigan

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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.”

MORE: Results, points after Cup Series race at Michigan

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.”

Sixth through 10th were Kyle Busch, Ryan Preece, William Byron, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman.

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.

Notable: Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones were both hoping to finally snap a unique record of sorts – no Michigan native has ever won a Cup race at MIS – but once again fell short.

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.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Stewart-Haas Racing sweeps regular-season finale of eNASCAR Heat Pro League

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Stewart-Haas Racing swept both races in the eNASCAR Heat Pro League’s regular-season finale, held Wednesday night on a virtual Daytona International Speedway.

It was the first time one team has swept a round this season.

Jake Morris (SHG Slick 14x) won his third straight race, winning the XBox One event.

Brandyn Gritton (SHG_HotRod_14p) won for SHR in the PlayStation 4 event, earning his second win of the year.

Below are the final overall point standings – combing both consoles – heading into the four-round playoffs, which begin Sept. 11 on a virtual Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Eliminated from playoff contention are the teams for Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Petty Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing.

 

You can watch both races in the below video.

 

 

Podcast: Life as a gay team member working in the NASCAR community

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As a racing fan growing up in rural Ohio, Ryan Hines heard the generalizations about intolerance in the testosterone-charged world of motorsports.

But his first-hand experience has been the opposite.

“I think NASCAR gets a generalized and stereotypical outlook that it’s homophobic and hypermasculine and there’s not any room for people who are gay to be in it,” Hines said during the latest episode of the NASCAR on NBC Podcast. “From my experience, it’s really a great community. I’ve met nothing but love and respect from everyone I’ve come across in the sport.

“It’s crazy that growing up I never thought I could be gay and work in NASCAR. I feel a lot of people who may be gay and have aspirations probably have that same mindset that I had growing up. I think it’s important there are role models for those people. Being an example of this guy is gay and is working in NASCAR and able to be himself and do what he loves to do, people being able to see that and know they can do it, too, is a step in the right direction. Having that representation is important.”

Hines, 23, is a coordinator of Xfinity brand content at Stewart-Haas Racing, where he works primarily with handling Chase Briscoe’s schedule and also handles media requests, video content and the team’s podcast.

He entered the NASCAR industry a week after graduating from Ohio State in May 2018, starting at Hendrick Motorsports. The Pleasant Hill, Ohio, native has been around racing (also working at Eldora Speedway through high school and college) for longer than he began publicly talking about his sexuality.

Hines has been out as a gay man since his junior year of high school and initially was concerned about how that would be perceived by racing co-workers.

“You’re told the stereotype of what racing is, and that fans and people involved aren’t accepting,” he said. “You hear that it’s a ‘redneck’ sport, and you associate Southern redneck roots with homophobia, whether it’s true or not. Now that I’m working in the sport, I see past those stereotypes and generalizations and have come to realize that most people in the sport are average people. They don’t care. They want you to be you. If you are who are to them, they’ll respect you for that.”

Hines said his sexual orientation comes up in casual conversation with other team members and without “anyone reacting negatively to it.” In sharing his story on the podcast, Hines hopes to help make it easier for other gay members of the NASCAR community who are reticent about being comfortable enough to discuss it.

“People don’t realize how much effort it takes to hide,” he said. “It’s exhausting because you have to worry about what you do and say.”

NASCAR has launched many initiatives (most famously its Drive for Diversity) over the last 15 years aimed at increasing its fan base among minorities and women.

As Major League Baseball, the NBA and other pro sports leagues have held gay pride nights that help build audience inclusion, Hines would like to see the same in NASCAR but said it’s also trickier.

“You have to be careful with that because there’s the stereotype of what the fan base is,” he said. “You don’t want to seem opportunistic. Launching a clothing line or holding an initiative, you want it to be genuine. I think NASCAR definitely needs to show they are welcoming, but they are struggling with how they do that and don’t seem opportunistic.”

Hines isn’t the first to discuss being gay in the NASCAR industry, but there have been no high-profile members (such as drivers or crew chiefs). In auto racing, five-time Rolex 24 champion Hurley Haywood is likely the most famous driver to have come out (discussing it in a documentary this year that he talked about as a NASCAR on NBC Podcast guest in April).

Hines believes it would be difficult for a driver to come out, but “I think they could come forward and find a lot of acceptance. You’re always going to have people who will say negative things. You’ll have that in any aspect of life. I’d love to see a driver, crew chief or an engineer come forward and embrace who you are and being truthful and honest. You’ll find a lot more acceptance and respect than you’d ever think you could.

“By and large, most large companies in NASCAR sponsoring in some capacity, they wouldn’t bat an eye as long as you aren’t bringing negative publicity and being authentic to who you are. They won’t have an issue with it. As long as you’re performing and a good ambassador to the brand, I don’t think the sexuality really matters.”

Hines said it is a delicate issue to discuss because he doesn’t want to be viewed as “a huge agent of change.

“I don’t want to be this huge trailblazer and try to take on a huge campaign,” he said. “But it’s important to be open and honest about it. The more people who see it as everyday life, the easier it can be.”

To listen to the podcast, you can click on the embed above or via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you download podcasts.

Kyle Larson sweeps midget, sprint car races at Placerville Speedway

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The Cup Series is taking the week off, but apparently Kyle Larson didn’t get the memo.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is still racing this week, albeit on dirt. Wednesday night Larson swept two dirt feature races he competed in at Placerville Speedway in Northern California.

He won in both a midget and a sprint car.

The midget win came in the Lucas Oil BCRA Midget Series and was his first win in his own midget car. The sprint car win was part of the King of the West-NARC Sprint Car Racing Series.

 

Weekend schedule for Xfinity at Road America, Truck in Canada

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If you like road course racing in NASCAR, then this is the weekend for you.

While the Cup Series is off before it visits Darlington Raceway next week, the Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series are in action on two different road courses in two different countries.

The Xfinity Series is in Wisconsin to turn left and right at Road America, while the Truck Series heads up to Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, to race at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

For the Xfinity race, wunderground.com forecasts partly cloudy skies with a high of 71 degrees and no chance of rain at the start time on Saturday.

At Bowmanville, the forecast is for sunny skies, a high of 71 degrees and no rain for the start time of the Truck race on Sunday.

Here is the weekend schedule for both series.

(All times are Eastern)

 

Road America

Friday, Aug. 23

10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

1:35 – 2:25 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

3:35 – 4:55 – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

Saturday, Aug. 24

8 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

11:40 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/two rounds (NBC Sports App live, NBCSN to air it at 1:30 p.m.)

1:35 p.m. – Driver-crew chief meeting

2:30 p.m. – Driver introductions

3 p.m. – CTECH Manufacturing 180; 45 laps/182.16 miles (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

Saturday, Aug. 24

7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Truck garage open

9:35 – 10:25 a.m. ET – Truck practice (No TV)

11:35 – 12:55 p.m. – Final Truck practice (No TV)

Sunday, Aug. 25 

8:30 a.m. – Truck garage opens

9:35 a.m – Truck qualifying; multi-truck/two rounds (FS2)

10:40 a.m.- Driver-crew chief meeting

2 p.m.- Driver introductions

2:30 p.m. – Chevrolet Silverado 250; 64 laps/157.37 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)