BROOKLYN, Mich. — Kevin Harvick got his groove back, fittingly at one of his favorite tracks.
Harvick ended a 65-race winless drought on the NASCAR Cup Series that lasted nearly two years with his sixth victory at Michigan International Speedway.
“Good timing for sure,” the 2014 Cup Series champion said Sunday after securing his 59th career win.
Harvick shook up the fight for the playoffs even more with just three races remaining in the regular season, leaving little time for drivers to earn a spot in the 16-car field but giving himself a boost after entering the weekend No. 17 in points.
“Everybody that doubted us doesn’t know us,” the 46-year-old Stewart-Haas Racing driver said.
The Cup Series has had 15 different drivers win at least one points race this season. If there are two new winners over the last three races of the regular season, a driver with one win will be eliminated from the 16-car playoff field with a tiebreaker based on points. Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. are top-10 drivers in points, but they have not finished first, which puts their postseason positioning in peril.
Harvick’s No. 4 Ford took advantage of clean air to pull away from Bubba Wallace in the 23XI Racing No. 23 Toyota and the rest of the field after a restart with 35 laps to go in the FireKeepers Casino 400. Harvick had not won since Sept. 19, 2020, at Bristol Motor Speedway, a playoff victory.
“It’s been a while,” he acknowledged. “Michigan has been a great place for us.”
Wallace started in pole position before winding up second, 2.9 seconds behind Harvick, followed by JGR’s Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Toyota. Hamlin co-owns the 23XI Racing team with basketball legend Michael Jordan.
“Second’s not good enough for the playoffs,” said Wallace, who needs a win to advance.
Austin Cindric, who won the Daytona 500 for his first career victory, started the day No. 15 in points and finished last in the 37-car race after his No. 2 Ford hit the wall head on in a nine-car crash that knocked JGR’s Kyle Busch out of action.
“It was a complete mess,” he said.
Joey Logano was fourth with teammate Blaney fifth in another Ford, while Truex was sixth and Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson, the reigning Cup Series champion, was seventh in the best finish for a Chevrolet. Erik Jones of Petty GMS was eighth and Hendrick’s Alex Bowman was ninth.
Kurt Busch missed his third straight race with concussion-like symptoms. Ty Gibbs, the 19-year-old grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, filled in as the No. 45 Toyota driver for 23XI Racing and was 10th, his best finish yet in a Cup Series race.
The series heads to Virginia’s Richmond Raceway next weekend.
IndyCar: Dixon wins Music City GP
NASHVILLE — Scott Dixon passed Mario Andretti for second on IndyCar’s career wins list with a victory in a messy Music City Grand Prix that pulled him within reach of a record-tying seventh season championship on the American open-wheel circuit.
Dixon overcame a poor qualifying showing, damage to his Chip Ganassi Racing car, a crash-fest around the downtown streets of Nashville and finally a drag race against Scott McLaughlin in a two-lap push to the finish. He won for the 53rd time of his career to break a tie with Andretti for second in the all-time column.
More importantly, Dixon jumped to second in the season points standings and trails series leader Will Power by six with three races remaining. One more title would tie him with AJ Foyt with a record seven championships. Foyt is also IndyCar’s all-time winner with 67 victories.
“You’re in it until you’re not,” said Dixon, noting he trailed Juan Pablo Montoya by 48 points with three races remaining in his 2015 championship season. , so we’ll keep digging.”
Team Penske’s McLaughlin was the race’s runner-up for a 1-2 finish for the drivers from New Zealand. The .1067-second margin of victory was the fourth closest in IndyCar history on a road or street course.
“I’ve always dreamed of racing him to the finish line,” McLaughlin said. “That was a proper duel.”
Alex Palou, the reigning series champion, was third as Ganassi put two drivers on the podium. Palou moved one spot in the standings to fifth as 33 points separate the title contenders.
Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta both came back from one lap down to finish fourth and fifth for Andretti Autosport, while hometown driver Josef Newgarden was sixth for Penske.
In its second year, the Music City GP was slowed 10 times for 36 of the 80 laps. The start was also delayed 90 minutes due to rain and lightning in the area.
IndyCar’s next race is Aug. 20 at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis, the final oval on the schedule this season.