How Kevin Harvick Silenced His NASCAR Doubters at Richmond

·5 min read
Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images
  • Kevin Harvick has strung together back-to-back wins following a 64-race winless streak.

  • Harvick led twice at Richmond for 55 laps in winning the Federated Auto Parts 400 over Christopher Bell, Chris Boucher and Denny Hamlin.

  • His 60th career Cup Series victory tied him with Kyle Busch for ninth all-time.

During his recent 64-race losing streak over part of three seasons, some NASCAR-watchers wondered whether Kevin Harvick had lost his touch. Now, after the 46-year-old has won two straight, those same doubters are wondering what’s going on.

A week after winning a 400-miler in Michigan, the 2014 Cup Series champion repeated in a 400-lap, 300-miler at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. He led twice for 55 laps in winning the Federated Auto Parts 400 over Christopher Bell, Chris Boucher, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Joey Logan, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Blaney.

Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images

After such a long slump—and after two strong performances—Harvick wasn’t sure he understood the turnaround. “I didn’t know (if he expected back-to-back victories),” he said. “But it’s like I said last week, the cars have been running good week in and week out.

“You see that we have a lot better understanding of what's going on with how we adjusted on the car after the first run and were able to get our car handling a lot better. I think as it got dark (and cooled from the afternoon heat and humidity), the race track really came to us.”

In getting his 60th career Cup Series victory—ironically, tying him with Busch for ninth all-time—the Ford star for Stewart-Haas Racing became this season’s first back-to-back winner. Sunday afternoon marked his fourth career victory at the 0.75-mile track.

Harvick was something of an afterthought for much of the afternoon. He wasn’t in the top-10 after Stage 1, but worked his way to fourth by the end of Stage 2. Second-starting Ross Chastain led all of Stage 1 and Logano led most of Stage 2.

He was eighth with 100 laps remaining, then climbed to second behind Logano with 75 to go. He led laps 334-340, made his final stop at 340, then passed Logano for the lead at 353. The MOV was a deceptive 0.433 seconds—Harvick wasn’t in serious jeopardy down the stretch, even as Bell made a late charge.

“I knew he was coming, but I forgot to shift down the front straightaway the last time,” he acknowledged. “I wasn’t paying attention and he got closer than he should have. I made a mistake a couple of other laps doing the same thing. I wasn't shifting on the back and I was shifting in the front. There was a lot going on, and I made a couple mistakes and let him get too close.”

The results didn’t dramatically affect the field for the upcoming 10-race, 16-driver Playoff Series. The 15 who had already won their way in remain eligible: Elliott, Chastain, Logano, Hamlin, Harvick, Larson, Bell, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, Austin Cindric, Cole Briscoe, and Alex Bowman.

Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. remain the only drivers eligible for the 16th and final spot on points. With regular-season races remaining at Watkins Glen and Daytona Beach, Blaney leads Truex Jr. by 26 points.

NASCAR Cup Series Results

65th Annual Federated Auto Parts 400

Richmond Raceway

1. (13) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400.

2. (21) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 400.

3. (18) Chris Buescher, Ford, 400.

4. (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400.

5. (23) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.

6. (17) Joey Logano, Ford, 400.

7. (6) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 400.

8. (32) Aric Almirola, Ford, 400.

9. (29) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400.

10. (10) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 400.

11. (4) William Byron, Chevrolet, 400.

12. (33) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 399.

13. (11) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 399.

14. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 399.

15. (8) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 399.

16. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 399.

17. (22) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 398.

18. (2) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 398.

19. (24) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 398.

20. (5) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 398.

21. (27) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 398.

22. (20) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 398.

23. (15) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 397.

24. (19) Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, 397.

25. (30) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 397.

26. (7) Cole Custer, Ford, 397.

27. (16) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 397.

28. (31) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 397.

29. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 395.

30. (25) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 395.

31. (26) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 394.

32. (35) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 393.

33. (36) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 392.

34. (28) Cody Ware, Ford, 391.

35. (9) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, Accident, 240.

36. (14) Ty Gibbs(i), Toyota, Engine, 180.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 98.11 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 3 Mins, 27 Secs. Margin of Victory: .441 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 5 for 28 laps.

Lead Changes: 16 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: K. Larson 0;R. Chastain 1-80;J. Logano 81-123;K. Larson 124;R. Blaney 125;C. Custer 126-127;R. Stenhouse Jr. 128-133;J. Logano 134-172;C. Elliott 173;J. Logano 174-234;K. Larson 235-244;J. Logano 245-294;D. Hamlin 295-304;J. Logano 305-333;K. Harvick 334-340;D. Hamlin 341-352;K. Harvick 353-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Joey Logano 5 times for 222 laps; Ross Chastain 1 time for 80 laps; Kevin Harvick 2 times for 55 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 22 laps; Kyle Larson 2 times for 11 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 6 laps; Cole Custer 1 time for 2 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 1 lap; Chase Elliott 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 1,11,5,6,24,12,22,48,41,19

Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,5,11,4,12,10,17,9,14,18