The Monster Energy Cup Series raced at Kansas Speedway Saturday night for the KC Masterpiece 400 featuring a race that consisting of 267 laps. Typically the spring/summer race is on Sunday afternoon with the fall playoff race at night. Due to popular demand, the series is racing at night this spring with night racing offering a new appeal and atmosphere to the track. The cars glisten off the stadium lights and everything just looks sharp. Racing at night is cool to experience and it never gets old.
The race started with the pole sitter, Kevin Harvick taking off to a comfortable lead to no one’s surprise. After a caution on about lap 30, Ryan Blaney took over the lead and led all the way to end of the stage. Harvick would not leave him alone, however. by staying within a second of Blaney and threatening to take the lead away. The two drivers almost wrecked each other on the last lap of the first stage. Harvick was racing hard trying to get the stage win, but Blaney was able to hold him off. Kyle Larson started in the back of the field and by the end of the stage, he was in the top-five. It’s safe to say he had another strong car.
Harvick was able to take his lead back going into the second stage and led until the drivers had to make green flag stops. At this point, it was all Larson. He had a great stop under the green flag and was able to take the lead after racing his way to the front of the field so fast in the first stage; it was no surprise that he was able to pull away from the field once he grabbed the lead. Larson was able to take the stage two victory for his first stage win of the season.
In the third stage, Larson came out to the same lead that he had in stage two and was pretty much the only Chevrolet driver in the top-ten all night. Larson led through green flag stops with the race running without any contact cautions for most of the race.
Then Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez connected after Suarez got into the wall. Both drivers were able to repair damages and continue racing. A few laps later, Blaney was racing aggressively against Larson and caused another caution that sent Blaney home. Shortly after that, William Byron became loose underneath Ryan Newman, causing a seven-car wreck with fourteen laps left to decide who would win the race.
Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. restarted on the front row with Truex out to a solid lead at over a one-second gap to second-place Harvick. However, with two laps left Harvick chased Truex down in a great a great battle for the lead. Harvick took over the lead on fresher tires winning his second race in a row and his fifth of the season.
Harvick had some early speed in the race but fell off pace toward the middle of the second stage. It seemed as if Larson was going to take the win until a series of cautions came around. Larson came from the back of the field and seemed to take this race over after leading most of the second and third stages. But the promise of getting his first victory of the season fell short.
Harvick’s nickname ‘The Closer’ is for good reason as he ran down Truex to make a late pass for the win. Truex’s lead looked promising enough but he could not hold off Harvick and his fresher tires.
It is obvious now which teams have a solid foundation going into the All-Star break. Fans can look forward to a fun second half after struggling teams make their adjustments for the better. Once the Chevy teams get their footing, there could be a lot of shake-ups in the standings and that’s when racing gets fun to watch.
Next week we head into the All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway where there is a new format compared to last year’s race. Next week’s article will include a more in-depth explanation of those changes. But a couple of interesting points to share now is that racing with restrictor-plates at the mile and a half track will be intriguing. To top this off, the cars will have six-inch wide spoilers with twelve-inch ears on both sides of the spoilers. These changes should add more pack racing and promote passing so it will definitely be a fun race to watch.