Kevin Harvick Blows Away the Competition at MIS

Ford sweeps both NASCAR Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway in 2018.

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Who will win the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway? Storms overnight washed the track clean at Michigan International Speedway. Under partly cloudy skies the race will begin on a hot slick track. Denny Hamlin(11) starts from the pole position, teammate Kyle Busch(18) sits beside him on the front row. Kevin Harvick(4) starts 3rd.

Photo Credit: Blake Boan / The Lasco Press

Daniel Suarez(19) smacked the wall during qualifying Friday. His crew repaired the right side of the car, but he will have to start at the rear of the field. Suarez has a fast car. Can he overcome the horrible starting position to keep his playoff chances alive?

Photo Credit: Blake Boan / The Lasco Press

Joey Logano(22) came to pit road on the pace lap to change the left front shock. Crew Chief Todd Gordon gave the wrong information to the suspension man. The mistake was not noted until shortly before race time. Forcing Logano also to start at the back of the pack.

Photo Credit: Blake Boan / The Lasco Press

Hamlin drove away from Kyle Busch at the start. Erik Jones(20) complained of an ill-handling race car and things went wrong quickly. Jones spun exiting Turn 4 on Lap 8 bringing out the caution. He lost a lap nursing his car back to pit road with 2 flat tires.

Just after going back to green William Byron(24), ran into Martin Truex Jr.(78) off Turn 2. Both cars spun and brought out another caution. Byron’s car suffered enough damage to cause him to lose 2 laps making repairs. Truex Jr. had only minor body dents and was able to stay on the lead lap.

The incident was good news for Jones who got his lap back courtesy of the free pass. Due to the rain last night NASCAR had told teams they would wave a competition caution at Lap 25. Almost the whole field pitted. Chase Elliott’s(9) crew lost control of a tire that escaped their pit. Elliott was penalized and sent to the rear of the field for the restart.

Back to green and another contender, Kyle Larson(42), returned to the pits with a loose tire. The same issue brought Elliott in for an unscheduled pit stop. Both drivers went a lap down.

Photo Credit: Blake Boan / The Lasco Press

After the early race excitement, things settled down for the remainder of Stage 1. Harvick moved to the front and drove away from the rest of the pack. Stages at Michigan are 60/60/80, necessitating a stop for fuel during the course of each Stage.

Stage 1 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
4 Harvick* 10
18 Kyle Busch 9
12 Ryan Blaney* 8
41 Kurt Busch* 7
78 Truex Jr. 6
11 Hamlin 5
10 Almirola* 4
31 Newman 3
2 Keselowski* 2
88 Alex Bowman 1

* Ford Fusion Drivers

Stage 2

The Stage ending pit stops swapped some positions at the front of the field. Jimmie Johnson(48) exited the pits in 1st. Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney(12), Hamlin, and Harvick made up the top 5.

AJ Allmendinger swapped directions on the track as he spun entering his pits. Completely in his pit box, just facing the wrong way, the crew was able to service his car. Allmendinger turned the car around after pit road cleared.

Photo Credit: Blake Boan / The Lasco Press

Ryan Newman(31) cut a tire and spun. Bringing out the caution for the 5th time on lap 74. Most of the field, having reached their pit window for fuel, opted to come in for service. On lap 83, Erik Jones spun again. This time going around in turn two. The ensuing caution allowed the rest of the field to pit for enough fuel to finish the Stage.

The Big Three

After the restart and positions at the front settled down, the contenders were the “Big Three.” Truex Jr. led, Harvick, ran second, and Kyle Busch held down the 3rd spot. Harvick eventually moved to the front and held on to win Stage 2. Capturing another vital playoff point, his second of the day.

In a rare miscalculation, the Truex Jr. team ran out of fuel with 2 laps to go. The pits had been closed for the end of the Stage and Truex faced a penalty for an illegal pit stop. He also lost a lap to the leaders slowing down while getting back to pit road.

Stage 2 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
4 Harvick* 10
18 Kyle Busch 9
12 Ryan Blaney* 8
41 Kurt Busch* 7
3 Dillon 6
22 Logano* 5
14 Bowyer* 4
10 Almirola* 3
2 Keselowski* 2
42 Larson 1

* Ford Fusion Drivers

The Final Stage

On Lap 131 Ty Dillon(13) hits some debris on the track. It was speculated that a battery may have been the object. Whatever it was, the damage took Dillon out of the race ripping through oil lines and steering linkage.

The Dillon caution allowed Truex Jr. to get back on the lead lap courtesy of the free pass.  But, he was no longer in a position to contend for the win.

After a long clean-up delay, the race restarted on Lap144. Outside of the fuel window, meaning a fuel stop would be required to finish the 200 laps. Harvick showed his dominance driving away from the field during the final segment of the race.

Pit Stops for Fuel

With all teams needing to come to pit road for a splash of gas the only drama remaining was if a mistake would cost a contender a shot at the win. Harvick’s stop was flawless. By Lap 190 everyone had cycled through the pits and Harvick held a big lead over 2nd place Austin Dillon(3).

Photo Credit: Blake Boan / The Lasco Press

Dillon, the Daytona 500 winner, looked like he would post a runner-up top-5 finish. Then he reported a tire going flat coming to the white flag. Dillon was able to hold on for 4th place. Harvick won by 3+ seconds over Brad Keselowski(2), with Kyle Busch 3rd and Blaney in the 5th spot.

Victory Lane Celebration

Kevin Harvick shared a great family moment with the crowd bringing his son Keelan out to the start/finish line to join in the victory celebration. Keelan ran across the track to grab the checkered flag for his Dad. He then rode in the passenger side of the car waving the flag out the window. They drove past the grandstand and into victory lane with Keelan as the co-pilot.

The good times continued with Keelan in Victory Lane and in the media room for the winner’s interview. Keelan even took a few questions from the press.

Photo Credit: Blake Boan / The Lasco Press
Photo Credit: Blake Boan / The Lasco Press

Playoff Status

Harvick’s Stage sweep and 7th Victory give him 40 playoff points in the bank. Kyle Busch has 35 and Truex Jr. has 27. Busch leads Harvick by 62 points in the season-long points race. With 3 races left before the start of the playoffs, Kyle is almost assured of capturing the regular season Championship.

Alex Bowman(88) the man on the playoff bubble in 16th position leads Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(17) by the same 62 point margin. Bowman will likely enter the playoffs on points. Unless a non-winner outside of the top 16 wins at Bristol, Darlington, or Indy. Given the difficulty of racing at those tracks, it’s a possibility.

Graphics Courtesy of NBC / NASCAR

Stayed tuned, The Lasco Press will be live this weekend at Bristol to keep you updated on all the on-track action.

 

 

 

Results of the Consumer’s Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 4 Kevin Harvick 200
2 2 Brad Keselowski 3.233 200
3 18 Kyle Busch 4.153 200
4 3 Austin Dillon 5.707 200
5 12 Ryan Blaney 8.957 200
6 41 Kurt Busch 12.032 200
7 10 Aric Almirola 12.384 200
8 11 Denny Hamlin 15.902 200
9 9 Chase Elliott 18.211 200
10 22 Joey Logano 20.260 200
11 19 Daniel Suarez 22.541 200
12 14 Clint Bowyer 23.425 200
13 20 Erik Jones 24.144 200
14 78 Martin Truex Jr. 24.345 200
15 31 Ryan Newman 26.183 200
16 21 Paul Menard 26.537 200
17 42 Kyle Larson 31.508 200
18 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 31.679 200
19 88 Alex Bowman 37.750 200
20 37 Chris Buescher 38.234 200
21 1 Jamie McMurray 38.953 200
22 47 AJ Allmendinger -1 199
23 43 Bubba Wallace -1 199
24 32 Matt DiBenedetto -1 199
25 34 Michael McDowell -1 199
26 95 Kasey Kahne -1 199
27 38 David Ragan -1 199
28 48 Jimmie Johnson -2 198
29 0 Landon Cassill -3 197
30 23 Blake Jones -6 194
31 51 BJ McLeod -6 194
32 7 Garrett Smithley -7 193
33 99 Gray Gaulding -9 191
34 6 Trevor Bayne -11 189
35 15 Ross Chastain -13 187
36 24 William Byron -13 187
37 66 Timmy Hill -62 138
38 13 Ty Dillon -69 131
39 96 Jeffrey Earnhardt -98 102
40 72 Corey LaJoie -163 37

 

Points/Playoff Standings

Rank Driver Points Wins
1 Kevin Harvick 924 7
2 Kyle Busch 986 6
3 Martin Truex Jr. 842 4
4 Clint Bowyer 732 2
5 Joey Logano 723 1
6 Chase Elliott 647 1
7 Erik Jones 596 1
8 Austin Dillon 451 1
9 Kurt Busch 750 0
10 Brad Keselowski 709 0
11 Ryan Blaney 687 0
12 Denny Hamlin 684 0
13 Kyle Larson 681 0
14 Aric Almirola 639 0
15 Jimmie Johnson 572 0
16 Alex Bowman 542 0
Playoff Cut Line
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 480 0
18 Paul Menard 472 0
19 Daniel Suarez 460 0

 

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Steve Sweitzer
Steve is the Sports Editor for the Lasco Press and highlights our coverage of NASCAR and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Steve is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association and a nationally published author of automotive related articles for industry trade magazines. He is also a freelance technical writer and accomplished photographer. A 25-year resident of Southeast Michigan, Steve’s passion for reporting on our community, it’s residents, and our automotive connections allow us to use his skills to cover a number of events. Steve’s ability to seek out the unique behind the scenes accounts that tell the often-overlooked aspect of a story makes for entertaining reading. Follow Steve at thelascopress.com with weekly NASCAR updates and featured articles.