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NASCAR: Kevin Harvick wins rain-delayed Bristol race

Kevin Harvick overcame numerous rain delays to take Sunday’s night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kevin Harvick overcame numerous rain delays to take Sunday’s night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Getty Images

This was supposed to be Bristol Motor Speedway’s annual night race. And thanks to all the raindrops it ended that way one day late.

Long rain delays Saturday night and Sunday afternoon finally came to an end with Kevin Harvick’s early evening finish in the Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race.

Harvick won a race very much of attrition, then invited his boss, retiring driver Tony Stewart, to join him driving celebratory doughnuts in celebration.

The next four finish spots: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher.

Turning point

Two crashes in the second half of the race took contenders Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Brad Keslowski out of contention. That’s the nature of short-track racing.

Three who mattered

Harvick: He gave Stewart-Haas Racing its first victory at Bristol.

Buescher: The rookie won Pocono, but still must finish in the top 30 to qualify for the Chase. His fifth-place finish Sunday was big toward that goal.

Kyle Busch: He appeared to have the dominant car for much of the race until a part breakdown led to a spin-out that ended his chances. “I’m really tired of losing races here with parts falling apart,” he said.

Observations

▪ Denny Hamlin has eight penalties this season for speeding on pit road. That’s no big deal now, with Hamlin safe for Chase qualification, but it could be an issue once the Chase starts.

▪ Stewart has always been fond of Bristol, but the retiring driver’s last race here was thrown off by frequent vibration in his car that forced the team to go back to the garage early in the second half of Sunday’s race.

▪ Rick Hendrick won’t have Jeff Gordon as an option should Dale Earnhardt Jr. (concussion-like symptoms) again need a substitute driver in Michigan. Hendrick went out of his way Saturday to say how gracious Gordon had been, coming out of retirement to fill in: “He’s willing to do anything he can to help the company...I can’t say too much about Jeff as a person.”

They said it

“It was my fault and I hate it for my guys. I was driving the car 101 percent when I should have been driving it 99.” – Kurt Busch on the spin-out that caught up Brad Keselowski, ending both drivers’ chances of winning Sunday.

Next race

Pure Michigan 400

Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.

When: 2 p.m., Sunday.

TV: NBC Sports Network.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

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