KANSAS CITY, Kan. Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, clinching a spot in NASCAR’s Chase round of eight.
He finished 1.2 seconds ahead of Carl Edwards, and joins Jimmie Johnson as automatic qualifiers in the semifinals. The third and final race of the postseason’s second roundwill be next week at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Harvick has advanced through each round of the playoffs in the two-plus year history of this version of the Chase.
Harvick, whose chances of advancing took a hit after a 38th-place finish last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, took the lead from Edwards on a restart with 30 laps remaining and never trailed after that. Joey Logano finished third, Johnson fourth and Kyle Busch fifth.
Five drivers will head to Talladega in need of a victory or a strong performance to stave off elimination – Logano and Austin Dillon (sixth Sunday) are tied for eighth in the standings and 13 points behind Martin Truex Jr. in sixth (Harvick is seventh but already has a spot clinched in the next round). Denny Hamlin (15th), Brad Keselowski (38th) and Chase Elliott (31st) rank 10th through 12th.
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After Regan Smith hit the wall and caused a yellow flag on Lap 235, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and four other leaders elected to stay on the track. Harvick, starting second alongside Edwards, was fastest on the restart and led the final 30 laps.
How the NASCAR Chase drivers fared:
1. Jimmie Johnson (3,082 points)*: With a spot in the next round already clinched, he could afford to run a conservative race, finishing an impressive fourth.
2. Matt Kenseth (8 behind): Dominated the first half of the race, leading 115 laps, but fell off the pace and finished ninth.
3. Kyle Busch (10 behind): Had fresh tires at the end, but they weren’t enough as he couldn’t track down Harvick. Finished fifth.
4. Carl Edwards (13 behind): Led 61 laps but finished second and came up short in his quest to win first race at track near his Columbia, Mo., hometown.
5. Kurt Busch (20 behind): Rallied from being a lap down at one point to finish 13th and stay inside the cut line.
6. Martin Truex Jr. (24 behind): Finished 11th and had refueling problems on pit road for much of the race.
7. Kevin Harvick (34 behind)*: Race winner always seems to respond when things look the most bleak in the postseason.
t8. Joey Logano (37 behind): Strong third-place finish moved him up three places in the standings and gives him the tiebreaker over Austin Dillon.
t8. Austin Dillon (37 behind): Won race off pit road late in the day after taking two tires, but that gamble didn’t pan out as he was quickly passed by Edwards and others, eventually finishing sixth.
10. Denny Hamlin (6 out of 8th place): Rallied to a 15th-place finish after his splitter broke early in the race. Hamlin was saved by a caution that allowed his team to fix the problem without going a lap down.
11. Brad Keselowski (7 out of 8th): Was running in 11th place when he lost control of his car in front of Denny Hamlin on Lap 190, spun into the infield grass and finished 38th. It was his first did-not-finish of the season.
12. Chase Elliott (25 out of 8th): Had a strong shot at winning – leading four laps – before tire problems ultimately cost him. Finished 31st.
*has second-round win
▪ The top non-Chase driver was Alex Bowman, who – despite hitting the wall twice and suffering from a food poisoning – finished seventh in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevy. Bowman, who started fifth, had bad luck last week at Charlotte, where he finished 39th after starting second.
▪ Reed Sorenson, who qualified 39th out of 40 drivers anyway, had to start at the rear of the field for missing driver introductions.
▪ Sign of the times? Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, one of the sport’s iconic tracks, doesn’t have a title sponsor for its race next week. As of now, the race is called the Alabama 500.
▪ Teams were warned at the pre-race drivers meeting not to use “tape trips” – pieces of tape placed on the car that can either create of eliminate drag – on their cars.
They said it
“These races are so hard to win, and (my pit crew is) so good at the details.” -- Harvick.
“It is really tough for me to finish second here.” -- Edwards, who grew up in nearby Columbia, Mo.
“I could smell the front, I could taste it, we just couldn’t hang.” -- Kurt Busch.
Three tweets from Sunday’srace:
Where: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
When: 2 p.m., Sunday
TV: NBC Sports Network