Kevin Harvick went two-for-two in having dominating days at Michigan International Speedway by following up his Saturday win with a victory Sunday afternoon.
Harvick led the most laps in both races and won three of the four stages. Michigan gives him his 54th and 55th career wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, and Harvick has now won four of the last five races at the speedway.
The final green flag run was 15 laps. Harvick had taken the lead for good with 40 laps to go, getting around teammate Aric Almirola. A debris caution for a flat tire on Alex Bowman’s car set up the final restart and gave drivers another chance to take advantage of the choose rule.
Harvick took the outside lane as the race leader and put Denny Hamlin to his inside. Off the restart, Harvick cleared the field and drove away to nearly a 1s lead as Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. battled for second. Hamlin took second with 14 laps to go and closed on Harvick for the race lead with six laps to go.
Both drivers fought tight race cars over the final laps with Harvick able to hang onto the win. The margin of victory was 0.093s, Hamlin making one last charge to Harvick’s bumper off the final corner.
“It was a big challenge,” said Harvick. “Our Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang got really tight there in (Turns) 3 and 4. I could run really good through (Turns) 1 and 2 still, but I was just tight on that other end all day.
“I’ve just got to thank all my guys, they did a great job all weekend on pit road, great pit calls. Just got to thank Haas Automation, Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers, Jimmy Johns, Fields. Everybody who helps put this No. 4 car on the track and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Yates Engines for awesome power underneath the hood this weekend.”
Truex finished third. Kyle Busch finished fourth, and Joey Logano completed the top five.
Almirola finished sixth. He battled back through the field after pitting to fuel under the final caution. Almirola was one of two drivers who pitted under the final caution (along with Matt DiBenedetto) because he mistakenly stayed on track during the previous caution, thinking the code ‘hot dog’ meant to stay out.
DiBenedetto finished seventh with Austin Dillon eighth. Finishing out the top 10 was Chase Elliott in ninth place and Kurt Busch in 10th.
Clint Bowyer finished 14th after leading the first 43 laps and winning the first stage. Christopher Bell finished 17th after a late spin from a flat tire, although he ran inside the top 10 for much of the afternoon.
There were five cautions and ten lead changes among six drivers. Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski brought up the rear of the finishing order after crashing together on lap 97.
Harvick is the first driver to win back-to-back races at the same racetrack in consecutive days in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced back-to-back days, let alone in the Cup car,” said Harvick. “I’ve never accomplished that obviously, but we’ve done (doubleheaders) a couple times this year, so I think for us it’s worked out pretty well. We’re hoping it goes the same way at Dover when we go there in a couple of weeks.”