Kevin Harvick snaps his winless streak with a victory at Michigan International Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series Firekeepers Casino 400 on Sunday.
The NASCAR Cup Series regular season is winding down as only four races remain heading into Sunday’s race in Michigan. The playoff race remains close with two spots still available for someone to win their way in. Opportunities are fading away as difficult tracks are on the horizon to close out the regular season. This Sunday’s race is a good opportunity to grab a solid speedway win.
First-Time NASCAR Cup Series Pole Sitter, Bubba Wallace Leads the Field
Bubba Wallace held the top spot after winning his first career pole during Saturday’s qualifying. He jumped out front and led the opening twenty laps of the race before the competition caution came out. Christopher Bell and many other drivers stayed out and cycled up to the front of the field.
On the following restart, Michael McDowell and JJ Yeley make contact with each other causing a nine-car wreck. Receiving most of the damage were Austin Cindric, Kyle Busch, and Aric Almirola. Christopher Bell continued with the lead once the race was restarted. He led the remaining 13 laps to win the first stage.
Ross Chastain Takes the Lead to Start the Second Stage
To kick off stage two, Ross Chastain beat Ty Gibbs on the restart to move into the lead. Chastain took control of the opening portion of the segment, but he was being tracked down by Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin was able to reach Chastain in 28 laps and completed the pass for the lead after receiving some help from Christophe Bell. Hamlin pitted from the lead with 28 laps remaining.
In the middle of the pit cycle, Cole Custer’s car caught fire, and this brought out another caution. Hamlin cycled back into the lead with 15 laps left on the stage.
Then, another caution flag waved shortly after the restart after Noah Gragson spun out. This short caution did not stop Denny Hamlin from carrying on and winning the second stage.
Daniel Suarez had a shot at the lead coming into the third segment. He and Ross Chastain ran first and second for 30 laps before both came down pit road under the green flag. Denny Hamlin took over the lead right as Christopher Bell hit the wall bringing out another caution.
Under caution, Kevin Harvick stayed out and he took over the lead on the final restart of the race.
The remaining 34 laps of the race ran green and not one person could catch the leader. Kevin Harvick took over at the end of the race to win his first race in 65 straight races. Kevin Harvick wins the Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Kevin Harvick becomes the fifteenth different race winner this season which throws a wrench in the playoff picture. Martin Truex Jr has been consistent all year long. But without a win, he now sits outside the playoff cutline coming out of Michigan.
Ryan Blaney is the lone winless driver inside the playoff picture. However, if Martin Truex Jr. picks up a win, or any other driver below the cutline steals a win, Ryan Blaney will be outside the playoffs as well.
In addition, if two winless drivers below the cutline pick up a race win in the next three weeks, the whole playoff picture changes again. A tie-breaker is in place for all the drivers with one win. The stipulation is their points standing. If two more drivers below the cutline win, it puts Austin Cindric and Alex Bowman in jeopardy of making the playoffs. Stay tuned in as the competition continues to ramp up in the next three races leading to the regular-season finale at Daytona.