Race Winner: Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Kevin Harvick started third and finished sixth, earning five bonus points.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang, was eighth on lap 28 when he brought the car to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He said the car was lacking rear grip.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Kevin Harvick started ninth and finished 22nd.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang, pitted on lap 82 for four tires, fuel and a tire and chassis adjustment. Said the front end was chattering.
● On lap 152, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure and chassis adjustment. Car is not handling well.
● Harvick pitted on lap 158 for fuel only and several chassis changes.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):
● Kevin Harvick started 23rd and finished fourth.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang, pitted on lap 163 for four tires and fuel.
● On lap 228, the caution came out and Harvick hadn’t pitted yet running in second place. He pitted on lap 230 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
● With 30 laps to go, Harvick restarted fifth.
● On the second-to-last restart with 14 laps to go, Harvick moved from fourth to first as he got by Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr.
● On the final restart on lap 266, Harvick was in the lead but was challenged the car driven by Truex. Truex and Harvick made slight contact on the backstretch but continued the fight for the lead into turns three and four. As they came to the frontstretch and crossed the start/finish line, it was four wide with Blaney low, Harvick next up, Truex above him and Cole Custer on the topside. Blaney car hit the sewer which is at the bottom of the racing surface on the apron and caused him to lose control of his car and the right side of his car hit the left rear of Harvick’s car. Smoke poured from the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang as Harvick fell to third. Custer took the lead, with Truex second and Matt DiBenedetto got around Harvick on the backstretch. Harvick was still able to finish fourth.
● Custer’s margin of victory over second-place Truex was .271 of a second.
● Custer earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory and it came in his first Cup Series start at Kentucky.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 42 laps.
● Twenty-six of the 38 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Harvick remains the championship leader after Kentucky with an 88-point advantage over second-place Keselowski.
● Harvick earned his series-leading 10th top-five and 14th top-10 of the season, and his second top-five and seventh top-10 in 10 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kentucky.
● This was Harvick’s fourth straight top-five and his fifth consecutive top-10. It began with a 10th-place drive June 22 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. He then won June 27 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, finished second June 28 in the series’ return to Pocono, and won last Sunday in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.
● Harvick has finished among the top-10 in 14 of the 17 races held this year. He has only one finish outside the top-15.
● Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has only finished outside the top-10 once at Kentucky.
● In the past eight races at Kentucky, Harvick has finished in the top-10 seven times. Until last year’s 22nd-place finish at Kentucky, Harvick had finished in the top-10 in six straight races at the 1.5-mile oval.
● Harvick finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points.
● Harvick led once for 11 laps to increase his laps-led total at Kentucky to 139.
● Harvick has now led 10,259 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 14,685 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We got lucky with that caution and got track position. We had a couple good restarts there and then we were in a positon to win. We made it through turns one and two and then Martin (Truex) kind of misjudged on the backstretch and kind of got into us. I had to check up. Next thing I knew I was four-wide on the front straightaway and the 12 (Blaney) hit the drain and went back up the racetrack. I just have to thank everyone from Hunt Brothers Pizza, Busch Light, Jimmy John’s, Mobil 1 and Haas Automation. Everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for continuing to bring great cars. And congratulation to Cole Custer. Obviously, last week he was a big part of our win and to get to victory lane in your rookie year is a big deal. Really happy for Gene (Haas) and everyone at Haas Automation and especially for Cole, he works really hard.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race on Wednesday, July 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 8:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio beginning at 7 p.m. with the undercard NASCAR All-Star Open.