BRISTOL, Tenn.—Kevin Harvick wasn’t worried about his poor qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In fact, starting 24th gave him exactly what he wanted to win at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“It kind of motivates me,” Harvick said yesterday. “I think it’s exciting.
“I like to pass cars.”
Harvick made the biggest pass with 70 laps to go—sweeping by Denny Hamlin and then holding on to take the rain-delayed race at the half-mile concrete track.
The victory was Harvick’s second of the season and second at Bristol—his first in 11 years. It also moved him atop the points standings and gave his program a jolt with only three races left until NASCAR’s “Chase” starts.
Harvick had 13 top-10 finishes in the 18 races since winning at Phoenix in March.
“It’s been one of those deals where things have just not gone exactly right,” conceded Harvick, who led 128 laps yesterday.
“But to have the win now, and just try to get that momentum before we get into the ‘Chase’ and get things rolling, is really what we needed.”
Fittingly for a race halted because of Saturday night storms, Harvick had to sit out one last rain delay before easily pulling away on the restart and cruising to victory.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Harvick said over the radio as he crossed the line.
Harvick enticed his car owner—and retiring driver—Tony Stewart to do burnouts with him to celebrate the three-time champ’s last race at Bristol.
He wanted Stewart to share the victory lap, but “Tony and I aren’t very good at sign language from one seat to another,” he noted.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was second, followed by Hamlin, Austin Dillon, and Chris Buescher.
Dillon, the surprise winner of the Xfinity race here Friday night, found himself competing for the victory on the final restart with 51 laps to go.
He got as high as second before finishing fourth.
The result was a boost to Dillon’s “Chase” chances, too. He came in as one of the drivers qualifying on points and left with that intact.
Stewart, meanwhile, was hoping to lock up his “Chase” spot—he’s got a win but stands 27th in points—with a strong Bristol finish.
Instead, he went behind the wall with a vibration just past the halfway point and wound up finishing 30th.
Kyle Busch, who led 256 laps, clearly had the strongest car yesterday.
But he spun on Lap 358 when a part broke and Justin Allgaier, driving in relief of Michael Arnett, hit the No. 18 car flush to end the defending series champ’s race.
Busch was angered by his equipment failure and said the race shop “was going to hear about it Tuesday.”
He also blasted Allgaier and his spotter, saying they should have seen Busch’s spin and moved clear instead of hitting him.
“I don’t know. Frustrating day,” said Busch. “Let’s go home.”
Allgaier apologized to Busch.
“That is the worst possible scenario when the leader spins out and you hit them,” he said.