Kevin Harvick finishes sweep of Cup series doubleheader at Michigan International Speedway

Kevin Harvick celebrates in Gatorade Victory Lane (photo: MIS)

BROOKLYN, Mich. — One venue, two days, two races, two wins.  That was Kevin Harvick’s weekend after capturing the NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, and completing the weekend sweep of the Cup Series doubleheader.  

With Harvick’s victories, Ford took home the Michigan Heritage Trophy for 2020, symbolic of the top OEM at Michigan International Speedway.  Today’s win was Ford’s 41st at MIS and the 53rd by Ford Motor Company (12 wins by Mercury).  It also was Ford’s sixth straight win, their longest in the Irish Hills.

Harvick’s victory Sunday was somewhat reminiscent of his triumph on Saturday in the FireKeepers Casino 400.  He led a total of 90 of the 156-lap race Sunday after being at the head of the pack for 92 laps Saturday.  He won each of the first two stages Saturday and secured the second stage Sunday, giving him five stage wins on the year.

Kevin Harvick passes the start-finish line at the Consumers Energy 400 at MIS on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020 (photo: MIS)

Harvick’s win was his 55th in the NASCAR Cup Series, as he surpassed Hall of Famer Lee Petty for 11th on the all-time list.  In addition, Harvick became the first driver to win back-to-back races at the same track on consecutive days in the NASCAR Cup Series. The last driver to win Cup races on consecutive days was Hall of Famer Richard Petty in 1971 (July 14 & 15 at Islip and Saratoga).

Even with all of his success in his career and particularly in 2020 – a season in which he now owns a Cup Series-best six victories – Harvick deflects a good portion of the credit to his team.

“It drives you,” Harvick said of his No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang.  “I think when you look at my team we’ve been together for going on seven years now and you look at the confidence everybody has in each other.  The details of the race cars and the thought of everything that goes into everything that we do is untouchable.  That’s what it takes are details to make these race cars go fast.”

Clint Bowyer led the first 43 laps of the race, including a win in Stage 1.  After that however, Harvick would go on to lead 90 of the final 113 laps.  Stewart-Haas racing teammate Aric Almirola challenged Harvick briefly, as he led nine laps before relinquishing the lead to Harvick, who finished it off by leading the way for the final 41 laps.  Almirola finished sixth.

Denny Hamlin, one of three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers to finish among the top-4, looked as though he had a chance to overtake Harvick over the final several laps, but could just not make up ground, as he was edged out by .093 seconds. 

“Just needed to maneuver a little bit better and I think that we could be a little better,” Hamlin said. “Overall, our car handled well. Just needed a little more speed there and a little bit more handling to pass. Obviously, I thought we were definitely the fastest car by running him (Kevin Harvick) down there.”

Martin Truex Jr. produced a third-place finish for the second straight day.

“We don’t do anything easy, that’s for sure,” Truex said.  “We were awful at the start of the race. I don’t know, we didn’t make a lot of changes from yesterday. We tried to do different things to try to get better. We definitely were worse. Just have to grind them out, that’s what we do. It’s good to be grinding out top-three finishes, that’s what the Playoffs are all about. We need to get some more points before that starts.”

Sunday’s win was a little different for Harvick in that he secured the Michigan Heritage Trophy for Ford.  He knew coming in that it was an extremely important piece of the weekend for his manufacturer.

“Well, when you start getting texts from Edsel Ford on how important the weekend is, you answer those,” Harvick said.  “I’ve been around Ford for several years now and you understand the importance of winning at Michigan.  The energy and effort that they not only put into our cars, but that they put into the engines at Roush Yates.  This is the place – right behind Daytona – that everybody from Ford wants to win at.”

Kyle Busch (4th) and Joey Logano (5th) completed the top-5.  For the second day in-a-row, Christopher Bell (17th) was the race’s highest finishing rookie.

There were five cautions for 24 laps in the race, and 10 lead changes among six drivers.

Riley Herbst collects first win in three years in VizCom 200 at MIS

Riley Herbst celebrates in Gatorade Victory Lane (photo: MIS)

Despite the fact that Riley Herbst is a rookie in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, his win in Sunday’s ARCA Menards Series VizCom 200 at Michigan International Speedway was particularly gratifying since he hadn’t won a race in any series since 2017.

And he did it after competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

“When you don’t win for a while it starts to mess with you and gets in your head,” said Herbst, who last won on June 9, 2017 in an ARCA Menards Series race at Pocono Raceway.  “You just have to be strong, keep doing what you’re doing, work hard and do your homework.  Having fast cars that Joe Gibbs Racing gives me, sooner than later you’re going to crack the door and get a win.  It feels good, no matter what series.  Wins are hard to come by.”

Second-place finisher Bret Holmes was in command during the early parts of the race, leading the first 61 of the 100-lap race.  It was on the final restart, however, that Herbst made his move and never looked back.

“Clean air is everything, especially with these bigger tapered spacers you can’t get runs or anything like that,” said Herbst, who led the race’s final 33 laps.  “Tony Hirschman on top of the spotters stand for me said we had to get it done on a restart if we wanted to win this race, just because it’s tough to pass with the big spoiler and low horsepower.  We were aggressive on side-drafting and made it work.  So we got it done on the restart.”

The finish by Holmes was his ninth straight in the top-7, a stretch which included a win at Kansas Speedway on July 24.  Nevertheless, there wasn’t much satisfaction for the Munford, Alabama native.  

“It’s just frustrating, said Holmes.  “On the intermediate tracks we come to win these races, not run second.  I want to be happy about that but we come to these races to win.  We did a lot of side-drafting and it was fun there at the beginning.  It was still a good run today, but it’s hard not to be mad, especially after leading.”

The top-5 was rounded out by Michael Self (3rd), Drew Dollar (4th) and Anthony Alfredo (5th).  Self, Holmes and Dollar stand 1-2-3 in the ARCA Menards Series championship points standings, with 544, 540 and 503, respectively.

The field for the VizCom 200 included Armani Williams, who hails from Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  A part-time driver in the ARCA Menards Series, the 20-year old Williams is the first NASCAR driver openly diagnosed on the autism spectrum.  The VizCom 200 was his second race of the season after competing at Phoenix on March 6.  He finished 10th in today’s race.

“It was a special day,” said Williams, who is a junior, majoring in mechanical engineering at Oakland University in Michigan.  “I can’t thank Centria Autism enough, because without their support and goal to raise awareness of autism and racing, none of this would have been possible.  Since we didn’t have a lot of ARCA starts, we came in with the mindset of keeping our nose clean, get to the end and salvage a top-10, which we did.  The fact that this was my first race at MIS I had a blast and a lot of fun.  It was a really, really big day.”

Source: Michigan International Speedway

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