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

Kaulig Racing hauler involved in accident on way to Kansas Speedway

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Kaulig Racing announced Wednesday night the hauler for its No. 10 team was involved in an accident on the way to Kansas Speedway for Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.

Team president Chris Rice said in a statement released on social media that Kaulig’s two drivers for the hauler were alert and had been transported to a hospital for evaluation.

According to 13 WLOS, the accident occurred around 5 p.m. ET, and a state trooper said the truck’s driver and passenger were taken to Mission Hospital by ambulance with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

According to told Fox Carolina, the North Carolina Highway Patrol said the hauler was traveling westbound on I-40 in McDowell County when it went off the right side of the road near mile marker 93. It went through a guard rail and down an embankment before stopping in the woods.

Rice said the team still planned to field two cars in Saturday’s race.

Ross Chastain is entered in the No. 10 Chevrolet this weekend for his fifth start of the year with the team. Chastain was announced Tuesday as the full-time driver of the car next season.

Kaulig also will field the No. 11 Chevy of Justin Haley in Saturday’s race.

Silly Season scorecard: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finds new home in JTG Daugherty Racing

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was without a 2020 Cup ride for less than 25 days.

Only a few weeks after Roush Fenway Racing announced it was parting ways with Stenhouse in favor of Chris Buescher, Stenhouse has landed in Buescher’s old ride at JTG Daugherty Racing in a multi-year deal.

Stenhouse will have Ryan Preece as a teammate in his first full-time year with a new team in a decade.

Here are where things stand with Silly Season:

OPEN RIDES ANNOUNCED FOR 2020

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

JTG Daugherty Racing: It was announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Reece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher.

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Clint Bowyer His contract expires after this season with the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team. Take it whatever way you want but Bowyer stated Sept. 20 that he did a commercial shoot in September with Kevin Harvick for next season.

Kurt Busch His contract expires after this season. Car owner Chip Ganassi has suggested in media reports that a deal will be done. Busch declined to discuss much about his contract status before the Sept. 29 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, stating: “We haven’t really started talks. I felt like it was good to get the playoffs underway and go as far as we could comfortably. Man, there’s a lot going on and we’ll see how things play out. Again, it’s all about all the stars lining up with Chevrolet, Monster Energy, myself, Chip. For me, I feel like things haven’t progressed because of the focus on the playoffs.”

Daniel Suarez He has said that both he and the team have an option on his contract for next year. He has remained confident that he will return to Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 41 car.

Xfinity Series

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet.

NASCAR America presents MotorMouths at 5 p.m. ET with Jimmie Johnson

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Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is the guest of honor on this week’s episode of NASCAR America presents MotorMouths, which airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Johnson joins Marty Snider and Kyle Petty. Together they’ll discuss this week’s storylines and take fan phone calls.

You can call in at 844-NASCAR-NBC or reach out on Twitter via #LetMeSayThis.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Tanner Gray to make Truck Series debut at Martinsville

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Former NHRA Pro Stock champion Tanner Gray will make his Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut in the Oct. 26 race at Martinsville Speedway, DGR-Crosley announced Wednesday.

Gray, 20, will drive the No. 15 Toyota in the final three Truck Series races of the season.

This is Gray’s first season in NASCAR competition after also racing in super late models.

Gray competed full-time in the K&N Pro Series East this season for DGR-Crosley, where he earned one win, six top fives and nine top-10 finishes. He also claimed one pole on his way to finishing third in the point standings. He made three starts in the K&N West Series and earned two poles and three top fives.

MORE: Tanner Gray embracing NASCAR after drag racing career

“I’m excited to make the step up to the Truck Series,” Gray said in a press release. “I think it’s going to be challenging, but I’m ready to take the next step with my DGR-Crosley guys. We’ve been preparing for this all season, and I think the best way to learn is to go out and do it. Between testing and spending time in the Toyota simulator, I think I have a good feel for Martinsville and will be able to adapt quickly. We will have three practice sessions to get acclimated and get the truck where it needs to be. We just need to keep our nose clean in the race and have a solid day on pit road.”

Gray’s K&N team will make the transition to the Truck Series with him for the remainder of the season. Seth Smith will serve as crew chief duties while veteran Eddie D’Hondt will be his spotter.

“I’m really looking forward to Tanner’s Truck debut after the building season that he’s had,” Smith said in a press release. “He’s learned a lot from where he started at the beginning of the season to where he’s at now. We tested at Martinsville and I feel like we had a really successful test session.”