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NASCAR Cup: Kevin Harvick sweeps Michigan

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN – AUGUST 08: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Apple Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan at Michigan International Speedway on August 08, 2020 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

After winning the FireKeepers 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, Kevin Harvick completed a sweep of the NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader weekend at MIS with another dominant performance and win Sunday in the Consumers Energy 400. After leading 91 laps, Harvick claimed his third-straight win at Michigan and his fourth in the last five races. It was his fifth, overall, win at the track.

“I think, when you look at my team, we’ve been together for going on seven years, now, and you look at the confidence everybody has in each other,” Harvick said. “The details of the race cars and the thought of everything that goes into everything that we do is untouchable. That’s what it takes are details to make these race cars go fast. I want to say hi to my family at home — Keelan, Piper, Mom. I’ll see you kids in the morning.”

Sunday’s win also was the 55th-career win for Harvick, tying him with Rusty Wallace for 10th on The Cup Series all-time wins list.

Denny Hamlin challenged Harvick for the win in the final laps of the 156-lap race but wound up second, half a car length from victory. Hamlin also lost a share of the claim of 2020 winningest driver through the first 22 races, as Sunday’s win was Harvick’s sixth of the season to Hamlin’s five.

“Just needed to maneuver a little bit better, and I think that we could be a little better,” Hamlin said. “Overall, our car handled well. Just needed a little more speed there and a little bit more handling to pass. Obviously, I thought we were definitely the fastest car by running him (Harvick) down, there.”

Two of Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, finished third and fourth, respectively. Joey Logano rounded out the top-five.

Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola inherited the lead when a miscommunication resulted in him staying out while the frontrunners pitted during a lap-104 caution. When the race restarted, Harvick, after taking two tires, moved into second and, after a few laps, took the lead from Almirola.

Almirola lost second to Truex but remained in the top-five before getting an opportunity to pit during the final caution of the race with 19 laps remaining. Although he was one of only a few drivers to pit, Almirola got back toward the front in the closing laps to finish sixth.

Soon after the final restart, Hamlin got by his teammate, Truex, to challenge Harvick for the lead and eventual win.

Just as SHR swept the first two stages in Saturday’s race at Michigan, the team swept the 40 and 45-lap stages that made up the first 85 laps in Sunday’s race, too. But instead of Harvick winning both stages, as he did on Saturday, Clint Bowyer was the victor in the opening stage, and Harvick won the second.

Harvick started 20th Sunday because of the inversion of the top-20 finishers from Saturday’s race. Meanwhile, Bowyer was on the front row and took the lead as pole sitter Chris Buescher dropped to the back for the initial green flag as a result of being in a backup car. Bowyer, then, led all 40 laps of the opening stage.

Bowyer was forced down pit road for an unscheduled stop just past lap 100 because of a flat tire because of a tire rub.

Harvick was up to eighth in the running order by the end of the first stage and got off pit road second to Busch during the caution after the stage. When the race restarted, Harvick took the lead from Busch and remained up front for the rest of the second stage.

Harvick was first off pit road for the restart for the final 71-lap stage as Hamlin and Ryan Blaney moved up to start in the top-two rows in the inside line. When the race restarted, Hamlin got in front of Harvick for the lead, but he quickly lost the lead to Blaney.

Blaney retired from the race a few laps later, though, when he and his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski wrecked when Keselowski challenged him for the lead on lap 95. As both drivers retired from the race, Hamlin re-inherited into the lead.

“I just lost it; it’s my fault,” Keselowski said. ”I feel really bad for my teammate, Ryan Blaney. He didn’t deserve that. I just came off of turn four and the 4 car (Harvick) was behind me and he gave me a push, and, I swear, I went into the corner, like, 20 miles an hour faster than I had been all day and got past the 11 (Hamlin), and I went to get underneath the 12 (Blaney), and I just slipped. I lost the back a little bit, and when I went to collect it, he was there, and I wiped him out and myself out, so I feel terrible for everyone at Team Penske and, especially, Ryan Blaney. Gosh, he didn’t deserve that. I should have whoa’d way up. I had been running wide-open on the bottom all day and thought I could do it again, but with that big push I overestimated the grip and ruined our day.”

The caution for the Penske teammates was the first of the race for an on-track incident. Soon after the race restarted, Harvick retook the lead.

Finishing seventh through 10th were Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway:

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Posted by on August 10, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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