There were two constants today at Kansas. One being the plentiful cautions, and one being Kevin Harvick. In a day full of chaotic racing, pole winner Kevin Harvick pulled away on the final green stretch of the day to win the race.
The rough racing might have started a little earlier than necessary. Actually, as early as turn one, on the first lap. It all started when Danica Patrick got herself stuck in the middle of a three wide duel. A duel that ended up getting a little loose, and collecting Cole Whitt in the 30, and David Reutimann in the 83. This sent all three into the wall. This wasn’t the last of the spinning on this particular caution.
Kyle Busch, who notoriously does not do well at this track spun after getting down onto the apron to avoid the three wrecking cars. He never hit the wall, but the splitter was never the same throughout the remainder of the race.
The race went back to green 10 laps later and Kevin Harvick, the pole winner for the first time since 2006 at New Hampshire, had no issue pulling away from second place Brad Keselowski and the rest of the field.
The race stayed green for another 33 laps, in which time, Brad Keselowski pitted under green because he felt like he had a right rear going down. After checking, it was found that his tire were clear, and the mysterious feeling would continue to haunt Keselowski.
The caution came out not long after, on lap 43, Michael Mcdowell had a tire go down and was caught at the top of the racetrack. NASCAR brought out the caution to able him to get onto pit road.
The leaders all came down pit road, most taking 2 tires and fuel except for Joey Logano, who took four tires. It was then that the twenty-two crew found his tires were worn to the cords. This same issue has been the worry of most crews since the tire change NASCAR introduced for this weekend.
The race restarted and Harvick continued to lead until Johnson passed him before green flag pit stops began. Harvick pitted shortly after.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. inherited the lead from Johnson who pitted three laps later on lap 85, when Jimmie Johnson hit pit road, the caution came out for debris in turn 3. Jimmie was already on pit road, and had to pass through. Johnson pitted with the rest of the field, but restarted in seventeenth.
On the restart, Matt Kenseth took the lead from Earnhardt.
On lap 111, the caution was brought out again for two separate incidents. The 33 of Landon Cassill was smoking and the 87 of Joe Nemechek was leaking oil.
The race restarted and Earnhardt immediately snatched the lead from his competitors. Two turns later Dave Blaney in the 7 car spun and hit the wall in turn two.
The mess is quickly cleaned up and the race is restarted on lap 122 where Joey Logano was quick to take the lead from Earnhardt.
Joey Logano lead for the next 14 laps. The caution was waved next on 136 when Justin Allgaier got loose in the corner and hit the wall, then rolled back down the track right into championship contender Ryan Newman. Both cars suffered damage. Ryan Newman is able to drive to pit road, then not too long after, the garage.
Justin Allgaier was unable to drive away and took a trip to the infield medical center. His day officially done.
Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch did not pit and Harvick was able to grab the lead on the restart.
Only three laps after the restart, the caution flew once again. This time for a bush that had caught fire on the hill, above turn one. Literally a bush (not a Busch brother.)
The race soon restarted after the fire was out and visibility restored.
After the restart, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon had a interesting battle for tenth and eleventh, a heated battle that would lead to a “civilized” yet heated discussion between the two drivers after the race.
“We were just racing hard. There’s no reason to run into someone on the straightaway.” Said Gordon afterwards. “It’s not a NASCAR race if you don’t have a discussion after the race with another driver about an incident on the track.”
Kurt Busch rebutted with “It could have been cleaner but Gordon didn’t give me an inch when I really needed it so I did the same to Gordon.”
The next caution was on lap 170 when David Ragan spun on the backstretch and hit the wall hard.
When the leaders pitted, four cars stayed out, including Denny Hamlin and new race leader Brad Keselowski.
At the time this was a good call. Considering the fact that 10 laps later, Casey Mears lost a bumper cover shortly after hitting the wall. This was the tenth caution of the race.
The race went green… and then yellow again on lap 187 for the eleventh time when Kyle Busch spun for the second time today. Montoya also spun, but received no damage to the car. Mark Martin, trying to avoid the wreck, hit the wall.
The pattern of the day only continued again after the race went green and then to a caution again. This time for Marcos Ambrose spinning on the back stretch.
The yellow flag flew again on lap 200 when contact between Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards ultimately resulted with Busch in the wall and done for the day. Brian Vickers also suffered damage to his car in the incident.
On the restart Brad Keselowski once again was able to take the lead and run away with it. Earnhardt spun his tires and dropped back to 12th in the running order.
On lap 219, Hamlin and Kenseth, who did not pit on the previous caution, were forced to come down pit road for green flag stops.
Keselowski lost the lead to Harvick on lap 224 and shortly after ran out of fuel, causing him to coast to his pit stall. The extended pit stop left Keselowski 31st in the running order. Unfortunately for Keselowski, three laps later, a caution for debris was brought out.
On the next restart, Jeff Burton led the field to the green because of pit strategy, but Harvick passed less than a lap later.
Burton quickly fell back while Gordon moves forward along with teammate Johnson.
The next caution came out on lap 243 when Vickers crashed on the back stretch. This caution marked a fifteenth caution — a record for Kansas Speedway.
Harvick once again grabbed the lead on the restart, followed by Kurt Busch, and Jeff Gordon.
With two laps remaining, Jimmie Johnson felt his car cutting-out so he shut it off for the last lap, and came home in 6th place. “All in all, it was just a crazy day. Whacky restarts, lots of chaos there. We rebounded from all of that and passed a ton of cars. We had something develop with the power & started losing power & shaking real bad.”
“It was like driving too different cars,” Kevin Harvick says of being at front of the pack compared to the back. He went on to win the race–the twenty-second of his career, third of the season, and first at Kansas Speedway.
Kurt Busch finished second. “We finished 2nd, that’s the most important thing. We’ve found speed, I wish we could have cashed in,” Saying he was missing the needed 5% to win.
Jeff Gordon finished third saying “Everything could have gone wrong for us today, and at the end, it went right.”
Joey Logano, who finished the race positioned behind Jeff Gordon thought “the 48 was the fastest out there. You had to be so aggressive (on restarts).”
Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard, Dale Jr., Marcos Ambrose, and Aric Almirola round out the top ten.
Matt Kenseth, the championship leader, finished eleventh. Kyle Busch was scored finishing in 34th.