Kevin Harvick tries to get past Kyle Busch, then fights the threat from his hometown Brad Keselowski.
To beat Harvick these days takes a lot – especially in Michigan.
Harvick ran to his fifth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season, beating Keselowski in Saturday extra time in the opening game of a weekend double at Michigan International Speedway. Harvick currently has four wins at Michigan, including three over the past three years. He was a key part of winning five races for Ford at Cup level at MIS.
“Just being challenged by a series of late reboots made it crazy,” said Harvick. “But in the end it was a great day for us. Everyone did a great job, called a great race, and we took advantage of a fast car and put it on Victory Lane. ”
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Keselowski was rejected again at home. He’s never won a Cup race in Michigan, but he’ll get another on Sunday. That would be a tall order to overtake Harvick’s dominant number 4 car this day. Harvick also won the first two races of the race.
“There is no time I think we or anyone else is better than four people,” says Keselowski.
Martin Truex Jr finished third, followed by Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch.
Busch still does not win the year with five races remaining in the regular season.
In the first two legs, the only yellow flag was for competition alert and the end of the leg. Then there are six warnings in the final leg and even a brief red flag to clean up the track.
The race, usually 200 laps, 400 miles, this time is scheduled for 156 laps. It all happened overtime after Christopher Bell contacted Austin Dillon to offer final caution.
Starting this weekend, NASCAR will incorporate a “pick rule” into the restart process for all national series racing except those held on roads and highways. When a driver approaches a designated point, they must go into the inside or outside lane to restart.
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Harvick said: “I think it certainly gave some guys an eighth or ninth chance of being buried. “You can take a chance and grab a position. So I think it went well and does exactly what everyone thinks it will do. ”
During the final reboot, both Harvick and Chase Elliott chose outside, while Keselowski and Denny Hamlin went inside. Harvick and Keselowski ran side by side a bit, but Harvick took a clear lead in Round 4, then went on another lap to win.
Keselowski watched the replay to see if he could do it differently, in hindsight.
Keselowski said: “I liked three ideas, and I watched the replay and none of them worked. “At the moment, there is nothing I feel I can do other than a little faster or a little more speed.”
Harvick, the series’ score lead, took the 54th win, pulling even Lee Petty to 11th on the career list. He’s one victory behind Wallace and two wins behind Busch.
For a brief moment, Busch was in front of the back on one of the late restarts, but Harvick got inside him, and Busch’s car loosened up and fell backwards. At first it looked like there could have been a very slight collision between the cars, but Harvick said that wasn’t.
“I don’t know if I hit him or not, but I watched the video and didn’t touch him. I must have packed a lot of air in the back left of him, ”said Harvick. “I know I need to be right there. You have to seize the opportunity when you have it and I need that party draft right away. I look like on video within an inch ”.
Busch managed to finish in the top five despite that incident.
“I don’t know if he hit me or just aired. It’s close enough that it bothers my car clearly and gets me out of it really badly, ”he said.
It was the eighth consecutive finish in the top 5 of Harvick, who has now taken over Hamlin’s top with a total of five league wins.