Kevin Harvick took home his fifth NASCAR Cup Series win of the season, holding off Brad Keselowski at the latter’s home track.
The Detroit Tigers weren’t at Comerica Park on Saturday afternoon, but a closer nonetheless took to a Michigan landmark’s final stages to steal the show and secure a win.
The FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway saw three restarts over its final 18 laps ended with Kevin Harvick capturing his fifth victory of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. Harvick, the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, also earned his fourth win at MIS and the 54th triumph of his Cup career tying him with Lee Petty for the ninth-most all-time.
Harvick was upfront for a majority of the event, leading 92 of 156 laps and winning each of the race’s three stages. He had his hands full as the race reached its latter portions.
Saturday’s race, the first of a weekend doubleheader at Michigan, was the first regular season event to use the choose cone rule, which allows racers to pick their lane on restarts. The format has been a staple in other sanctioned auto racing events and made its unofficial NASCAR debut at the All-Star Race exhibition at Bristol earlier this summer. With this rule, drivers can improve or sacrifice their spot on the leaderboard, though they get to get up to speed in the lane they prefer. The top lane at Michigan, treated with the PJ1 traction compound, was the preferred lane of Harvick and the rest of the leaders.
Chase Elliott used the rule to his advantage to take a late lead, but Harvick took the lead back after the yellow came out for Ryan Preece’s scrape with the wall. Two more incidents, including a multi-car pile-up involving Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman that sent the race to overtime, set up one final chance for the rest of the field. Harvick was able to hold off a furious challenge from Brad Keselowski, who was seeking his second straight win and swipe the victory by a .284-second margin.
Martin Truex Jr. went from eighth to third over the two-lap dash, while Ryan Blaney came home fourth. Kyle Busch got loose after a fierce battle for the lead with Harvick but recovered to finish fifth.
The second half of the Michigan doubleheader will come on Sunday afternoon in the form of the Consumers Energy 400 (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
- Bubba Wallace (9th) earned his fourth top-ten finish of the season, setting a new career-high.
- Aric Almirola (16th) saw his streak of consecutive top-ten finishes end at nine.
- The starting lineup for Sunday’s race will be determined by inverting the top 20 finishers and the rest set by directly by final spot. By finishing 20th, Chris Buescher will start on the pole.
- John Hunter Nemechek was involved in three on-track incidents, including a wreck that officially sent him to the garage at lap 131.
- A brief red flag came out after Cole Custer wrecked at lap 150, lasting just under six minutes as fluid was cleared off the track.
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For full standings, click here
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags