Kevin Harvick is no stranger to having his back against the wall in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. After races at Chicago in the ‘Round of 16’ and Charlotte a week ago, the driver of the No. 4 Outback Chevrolet found himself below the playoff cut line.
However, he never looked at the points standings. "I had no idea where we were in the points or who we were behind," Harvick said in a post-race press conference. "The only thing we talked about was how to win this race and if we didn't win this race, what we need to do at Talladega. For us, it's always about reaching for something to motivate us. We know we can perform in good and bad situations."
Harvick made sure he stayed in the hunt for his second NASCAR Sprint Cup championship by winning the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, leading a total of 74 laps. Not only is this Harvick’s 35th victory in 569 Cup starts, it is also the second one at the 1.5-mile tri-oval and his fourth win of the 2016 season.
“I just got two good restarts against the No 19 (Carl Edwards),” Harvick said in a Team Chevy post-race press release. “He didn’t have a car quite as close to him, and I was able to break that draft before I got to the middle of one and two and get away from him, so that was pretty awesome. I just needed to go for and that is really the mindset we go into every race in the Chase was to go for, and we did.”
Throughout the year, restarts have not been one of Harvick’s strong points. “I’ve done a poor job the first half of the year,” he explained. “We struggled with some ratios and timing. We came up with some ratios that really fit what we were doing, and the processes and some other things and it has really paid off twice in the Chase.”
With today’s win, Harvick now ranks seventh in the Chase standings with 3048 points.
Edwards led 61 laps but came up short. However, the driver of the No. 19 XFINITY Toyota still posted his 13th top-10 finish in 19 races at Kansas. It is also his 17th top-10 finish of the season.
“We ran well,” said the Columbia, Mo. Native. “That was really fun getting to race up front. That last restart, Kevin and Jimmie (Johnson) just lined up at the bottom and they just got far enough ahead and I couldn’t hang on to the outside. We’ll just move forward.”
Joey Logano finished in third place on the board and earned his sixth top-10 finish in 15 races at Kansas. “That was hard fought,” he said in a Ford Racing advance. “We just weren’t very good on the short runs so I had to play defense instead of offense on restarts. After 15 laps we were equal to, not way better to the point we could make up a bunch of time.”
After his win at Charlotte last week and a fourth-place finish today, Johnson is still leading the Chase standings with 3082 points.
“From a start perspective we knew we were going to have a tough task today to get to the front with the Lowe’s Chevrolet, but a very solid race car,” Johnson said, also in the Team Chevy post-race transcript. “I love that the sun came out and really made it a racy track for us. I felt like we could have had a shot at the win, it seemed like the No. 19, the No. 4 and us were kind of equal there. I was able to get the No. 4 by the No. 19 on that restart and just couldn’t clear the No. 19 myself and slipped back to fifth. Great performance, I think we had a shot at it. I had a lot of fun today that is for sure.”
After starting on the pole, Matt Kenseth came home ninth in today’s event. The driver of the No. 20 DEWALT/FLEXVOLT Toyota led 116 laps, the most on the day.
“It was really bad,” Kenseth said of his race day in the Toyota Racing advance. “We were backing up there, we lost the handle and the track got hotter and we started getting loose and started losing a few spots. We hit the wall getting into (turn) one, I’m not sure how I did it and got us behind and got us tight. We made our way back up there at the end, I thought we were going to be okay on that last restart, then whatever that little kid’s name is who’s driving the 88 (Alex Bowman), hung a left and knocked my whole right front fender off and we were just lucky to finish were we did.”
After today’s race, Kenseth is ranked second in the Chase standings behind Johnson with 3074 points.
Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ‘Round of 12’ is the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Coverage begins at next Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM ET on NBCSN, MRN and Sirius XM Channel 90.
- Kevin Harvick
- Carl Edwards
- Joey Logano
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kyle Busch
- Austin Dillon
- Alex Bowman
- AJ Allmendinger
- Matt Kenseth
- Kasey Kahne