Kevin Harvick ended the KC Masterpiece 400 in victory lane for the fifth time of the season on Saturday at Kansas Speedway. The California native started on the pole and led 79 of the 267 laps. The win did not come easy for the series veteran as he passed leader Martin Truex Jr. with two laps remaining.
Harvick saw the lead throughout the race until lap 130 when he fell further back in the field. Harvick didn’t see the lead again until lap 244 for five laps and not again until two laps remaining. The win will mark Harvick’s 42nd career victory in NASCAR’s premier series.
“I think as you look at the last couple of laps it wasn’t working for me on the bottom and I was able to make up some ground on the top and really I thought if it came down to it I could pass him on the bottom because my car went through one and two on the bottom or I could drive through the middle of three and four, but I just had to pick which lane. He wasn’t gonna choose and he never chose the high lane and we were able to drive right by,” said Harvick on the pass for the win.
The hottest driver in NASCAR will go into the Coca-Cola 600 in two weeks with nine top five and 10 top 10 finishes along with five trips to victory lane. Harvick will leave Kansas with three wins and 14 top 10 finishes at the 1.5-mile track.
“Well, I think this weekend shows really how good the race team is. Everything didn’t go exactly smooth and everybody just kept a good demeanor about things and kept calm and kept working through things,” said Harvick. “The same thing tonight. Everybody just kept working through trying to make the car better and we were able to wind up in Victory Lane. Those are the days that you just grind it out.”
Truex was looking to be the car to beat in the closing laps before being passed by eventual race winner Kevin Harvick. Truex, driving the No. 78 5-hour Energy Toyota for Furniture Row Racing, led the field for 13 circuits and scored his seventh top five finish of the year.
The New Jersey native finished stage one 11th and stage two sitting 10th on the race leaderboard. Through 12 completed races in 2018, Truex holds an average finish of 12.5.
Joey Logano rounded out the top three finishers on Saturday at Kansas. Logano, who started the day ninth on the scoring pylon, finished fourth in stage one and found himself running one spot back in fifth at the end of stage two.
Logano goes into the next race at Charlotte Motor Speedway holding five top five and 10 top 10 finishes along with the win last weekend at Dover.
Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five finishers.
Kyle Larson’s fourth-place finish wasn’t easy for the California native. He and Ryan Blaney made contact in turn one that sent both cars into the outside wall. While Larson continued, Blaney would not and will leave Kansas with a 37th-place finish.
The final caution flag resulted in a 13 minute and 13 second red flag when seven cars tangled on the frontstretch. The wreck included William Byron, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon. All drivers involved walked away from the on-track incident.
Several drivers spoke about the incident on the frontstretch with just a handful of laps remaining.
“I don’t have any idea what happened with the wreck,” said Kenseth making his first start in the series since November. “I just saw everybody wrecking and the track was kind of blocked, so I tried to get down towards the grass. This grass is not the new friendly grass with the rain and all it just kind of dug in and then I just hit the car in front of me.”
“It was pushing and shoving late race restart and everybody gets impatient so just wadded up a bunch of cars. I thought we had cleared it and we were in the grass and just had somebody come from the top and wipe us out,” said Buescher about the incident. “Not what we wanted with our Breyers 2 N 1 Camaro. We had good speed in the sun and the sun went down and we lost a little something. We were working hard to get it back and trying to be fighting for the lucky dog there and we were for a long time. We just got swiped and something that who knows, I haven’t seen a replay, I don’t know. I’m sure just uncalled for.”
“We were just an innocent bystander really. They crashed kind of underneath me, in front of me and just got all wadded up,” said Newman. “I mean I had no place to go. It’s jus unfortunate, kind of a ho-hum race I guess you could say for so long and then to get 14 laps from the end and tear up a bunch of cars like that just kind of sucks.”
The next race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be the Monster Energy All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.