Harvick passes Truex for 42nd career win
By Dominic Aragon
May 12, 2018
Kevin Harvick survived late-race crashes and passed defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. with two laps to go in the KC Masterpiece 400 for his 42nd career victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Harvick led five times for 79 laps, ultimately earning his fifth victory through the first 12 races of 2018.
“I think this weekend shows really how good the race team is,” Harvick said. “Everything didn’t go exactly smooth and everybody just kept a good demeanor about things and kept calm and kept working through things.
“The same thing tonight. Everybody just kept working through trying to make the car better and we were able to wind up in Victory Lane.”
Truex Jr. led 13 laps en route to a runner-up finish, his highest since his victory at Auto Club Speedway in March. Despite winning the last two races at Kansas, the defending champion said he overachieved Saturday night.
“We had to fight hard, we were awful at the start of the race,” Truex said. “We’re missing something right now, just can’t get the thing turned, so we felt tight all night long. Got better for sure the last three or four runs of the race, but still have to find some turns. We’ll get to work on that.”
Rounding out the top-five finishers were Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin.
STAGE 1 HIGHLIGHTS
Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick led the opening 32 laps.
Harvick and Ryan Blaney were the only two race leaders during the stage.
Blaney restarted with the lead after the competition caution (lap 30) and led the field for the duration of the stage.
The Team Penske driver picked up his third stage win of 2018 and seventh of his career.
STAGE 2 HIGHLIGHTS
Kyle Larson, who started from the rear of the field after changing tires from his Friday qualifying spin, cycled to the lead, pacing the field for the final 30 laps of the stage.
Larson picked up his first stage win of 2018 and ninth career stage win.
STAGE 3 HIGHLIGHTS
The final stage of the race saw multiple on-track incidents that ended driver’s racedays.
Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson tangled on lap 248 with Blaney ultimately making contact with the Turn 1 outside wall after cutting a right-front tire. Blaney went on to finish 37th, out of the race.
“It was hard racing,” Blaney said. “I definitely take the blame on that one. I was just trying to side draft hard and the car was kind of light down the frontstretch there and it was just hard racing at the end.”
The last caution of the night on lap 253 came out after William Byron got loose in Turn 4 and clipped Clint Bowyer.
“We took two tires there and couldn’t get it turned on the bottom and then got sucked around at the last minute,” Byron said. “It just should have been lower than that. Just couldn’t rotate. Couldn’t cut.
“I think overall, we were trying to kind of push some things there and it just didn’t work out.”
The contact between the two collected more drivers, including Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman, eliminating a total of six drivers.
Truex restarted with the lead on the final restart with nine laps to go, but Harvick, on fresher tires, prevailed and passed Truex with two laps to go.
Harvick earned his third win in the Cup Series at Kansas.
15 drivers finished on the lead lap and 31 cars finished the race.
Kyle Larson led a race-high 101 laps. It was the second time this season Larson led the most laps among the competition in a Cup Series race and the 10th time in his career.
Kyle Busch, who finished 10th, leaves Kansas as the points standings leader.
With his win, Harvick remains in sole possession of 18th on the all-time wins list. The next three on the list are Bill Elliott (44), Kyle Busch (46) and Buck Baker (46).
The next points-paying race on the schedule for the Cup Series is the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27.