NCS: Kevin Harvick wins FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan
Kevin Harvick won Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in overtime. Harvick beat Keselwoski in overtime to win the first of two Cup races at Michigan this weekend.
“The restarts were obviously a handful but our Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang was really fast today and we held on for the long run and would really go on the short run and did everything we needed it to do,” Harvick told NBCSN post-race.
Driver No. 4 led the remaining 14 laps and took the lead with 8 laps to go in the race after nearly making contact with Kyle Busch, who got loose and sent him up the turn 4 wall.
“I didn’t know if I hit him or not but I saw the video and didn’t touch him,” Harvick told NBCSN. “i must have packed a bunch of air on his left rear. I knew I needed to be right there. You have to take the chance when you have it and I needed that side draft down the front straightaway. I got within like an inch and it looked like on the video I didn’t know if I had just barley touched him but in the video I definitely didn’t touch him.”
Rounding out the top five were Brad Keselowski in second, Martin Truex Jr. in third, Ryan Blaney in fourth and Kyle Busch in fifth.
The late race restart was set up by a wreck involving Austin Dillion, Michael McDowell and Ryan Newman.
Rounding out the top ten were Denny Hamlin in sixth, Chase Elliott in seventh, Joey Logano in eighth, Bubba Wallace in ninth and Kurt Busch in tenth.
Bubba Wallace, who finished ninth earned his fourth top-10 this season, his most ever in a single season.
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Austin Hill Wins in Overtime
Austin Hill took the checkered flag in the Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway to conclude the Gander Outdoor Truck Series regular season.
Hill's second win of the season did not come easy with many drivers fighting for playoff contention. Several drivers were on the bubble or needed a win in order to earn a playoff berth for championship contention.
The Hattori Racing Enterprises No. 16 Toyota was able to bounce back from a speeding penalty and led only 25 laps before celebrating in victory lane. He was able to make a run for the win when the race went into overtime after a failed bump and run with the leaders resulted in a multi-truck wreck. Hill avoided the wreckage and took the lead.
Sheldon Creed finished second for the second consecutive week after a hard-fought battle with the leader. Tyler Dippel, Brett Moffitt and Austin Wayne Self rounded out the top five in the Irish Hills.
Hill's win earns him a spot in the eight driver playoff field. Joining him is Brett Moffitt, Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, Ross Chastain, Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Tyler Ankrum.
The race for the Gander Outdoor Truck Series begins Thursday, August 15, at Bristol Motor Speedway with the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics and Bush's Beans 150 on FS1.
Whisler Weekly Recap: Michigan/Gateway
BK facing turmoil?
Will BK Racing be around when it comes to the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season? In recent weeks, the future of the organization is up in the air. Ryan Sieg was in the car at Michigan that was driven by Gray Gaulding. Alon Day, the first Israeli driver to compete in Cup, will replace Gaulding at Sonoma this weekend. Gaulding and Sieg went to social media last week before Michigan to discuss what is going on. At Dover, Sieg was in the car for Corey LaJoie
I wanted to be the one to share the news with my fans and partners but I will not be racing the 23 this weekend at @MISpeedway pic.twitter.com/sTytMTQF3c— Gray Gaulding (@graygaulding) June 13, 2017
Just an FYI for everyone.The only thing BK wanted me to bring to the table was my driving shoes. Hate it for Gray. Great kid and driver. https://t.co/bcescv3woW— Ryan Sieg Racing (@RyanSiegRacing) June 13, 2017
Over the past couple of weeks, the organization has also reorganized their crew chiefs. Randy Cox moved from the No. 83 team and take over duties as the No. 23 crew chief. Doug George has been named as crew chief for the No. 83 Toyota. Patrick Donahue was relieved from his duties as crew chief for Gaulding after Pocono.
BK Racing has been the joke of many fans and drivers alike because the organization tends to bring out a caution each week.
Ron Devine told "The Pit Stop" on the Speedway Digest Radio Network earlier in the year that they would remain consistent with two drivers throughout the season no matter what and use a third car, if needed, for a rotisserie of drivers.
BK Racing only has one charter in 2017. In 2016, they had two, but over the offseason sold the charter to Front Row Motorsports then leased out to TriStar Motorsports. Because of the charter setup, Front Row will either have to start a third team or sell the charter they acquired.
On the preliminary entry list, BK Racing only has the entry for Alon Day at Sonoma.
Truck count at Gateway
Only 30 trucks in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made their way to Gateway Motorsports Park this past weekend. At Texas Motor Speedway, the truck count was 28.
When the Truck field is paired with the Cup Series, the field is at capacity or teams are being sent home from the event.
Many fans and media were worried about the truck count. However, it is going to be ok. Many standalone events do not have a high enough purse for many teams to even consider showing up. It would usually be cheaper for a team to sit out of an event that doesn't pay well, than to show up and wrecking the vehicle.
GMS Moves to Cup?
News broke early Saturday evening that GMS Racing could potentially field a team in the Cup Series. According to a report by Motorsport.com, that decision couple come within the next month.
This move would be welcomes as the Cup field has struggled to have 40 or more cars arrive at every single race. Although NASCAR deems a full field as 36, it is concerning that only a couple of "open" teams show up on a given weekend.
Last week, GMS Racing hired on Mike Ford to help run the Xfinity Series program. Ford was a Cup crew chief for Denny Hamlin and Bill Elliott resulting in 21 Cup wins.
With the lose of Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports lost a key player in the Cup series. The addition of GMS Racing would allow more information to be shared among teams at Chevrolet.
Because sponsorship and charters are crucial in Cup today, GMS and Maurice Gallagher are looking at running one car. However, if the move to Cup happens, the organization will use Spencer Gallagher for a test run.
It is also interesting to note that just a few short years ago, GMS Racing was a team that would be sent home for failing to qualify in Truck competition. Now, they are a power house in that series as well as a strong dark horse in the Xfinity series.
It is a love hate relationship when it comes to standalone events in NASCAR’s top-three national divisions. In 2017, the Truck series will have a stand alone event at Texas, Gateway, Eldora, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Xfinity Series has standalone events at Kentucky, Iowa, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Road America.
In 2018, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway standalone for Trucks and the Xfinity standalone at Kentucky will be no more.
Standalone events have become more cost consuming for many teams. The Xfintiy Series has been called “Cup Lite” because of how many races they run with Cup. The viability of these series is contingent on the performance and presence of drivers in the Cup series.
The slogan for the Xfinity Series is “Names are Made Here”. That slogan is true in the fact that when an Xfinity regular is able to run alongside and compete against a Cup regular it shows that they can beat and compete against the “best of the best”.
The crowd at Gateway was one of the best that has been seen at a standalone event in quiet some time. However, not many Trucks arrived at Gateway.
NASCAR should look at potentially moving the Trucks away from contingent weekends with Cup and Xfinity, but look at ways to help promote the K&N Series at some of their own tracks. This could help NASCAR get reconnected with the grassroots of the sport, something that has been lost as NASCAR has become more corporate.
Debris cautions have been a hot topic after the FireKeepers Casino 400 from Michigan International Speedway. The third to last caution was thrown for debris within the final 20 laps of the event. After that caution, the caution flag flew a total of two more times to do incidents on the restartL Tony Stewart went to Twitter to explain his frustrations:
It's a shame that so many drivers and teams day was ruined by the results of another "debris" caution towards the end of the race today.— Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) June 18, 2017
NASCAR threw the caution for a trash bag on the racing surface, but did not throw the caution for debris due to a straw hat on the racing surface.
Scott Miller, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Racing Competition, went on SiriusXM’s “The Morning Drive” to discuss this situation.
"We use all the resources that we have to try to identity what it is that is out there - that being camera, turn spotters and the communication that we've got around the race track to different people who may be able to see it," Miller said.
"If we are actually able to identify what it is and feel like it's something that is OK to leave out there, then we'll do so. But if we can't identify what it is exactly and it could pose something dangerous, then we'll usually, or almost always, error on the side of caution and safety and put the caution out in those circumstances. Sometimes it's untimely and a little bit unfortunate, but we do have to do our job and make sure that everybody is safe."
NASCAR needs to work with its TV partners to show why the caution was flown for debris. This will help clear the air of the black helicopters that encompass debris cautions.
Since instituting the “crash damaged vehicle” policy in 2017, the number of cautions for debris is at 12, while the number of debris cautions in 2016 were at 21.
Give Me Five: Michigan and Road America Edition
The NASCAR Sprint Cup, Camping World Truck, and Xfinity series have wrapped up their respective events at Michigan International Speedway and Road America for the Pure Michigan 400, Road America 180, and the Careers for Veterans 200. Here are five takeaways from this weekend’s events:
- Schedule: On Saturday, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race was delayed by rain, and was ran during the Xfinity Series event at Road America. This was a nightmare for fans who wanted to watch both events. Motor Racing Network broadcasted the race from Road America, and will replay the Truck race sometime this week. Even if the events were ran at their respective times, there was a small window for fans to switch to events barring the first one get placed under a red flag. I understand that the events were held in two completely different venues, but it was a logistical nightmare for fans. TV probably played a role in the start time of the events, but hopefully it will be looked at scheduling wise to allow fans the chance to watch both races.
- First Time Winners: This weekend was a first in NASCAR history. All top-three national series experienced first time winners. Brett Moffitt in the Trucks, Michael McDowell in the Xfinity Series, and Kyle Larson in the Cup series. It is pretty cool, in my opinion, to be witnessing so much history happening in 2016. This makes me excited for the future of this sport, the sport I love and grew up on.
- 2017 Aero Package: The aero package that is expected to be used in 2017 needs some work. Kentucky and Michigan 2 provided lackluster racing, which resulted in a snoozefest, in my opinion. I wish this test was going to be used at track like Darlington because it has an abrasive surface, unlike Michigan and Kentucky. The first Michigan race where this package was used provided some fantastic racing, but it failed to produce in the next two events it was used in. I applaud the sanctioning body for trying to make the racing great again, but there needs to be some look on this package tested out.
- Road Course Racing: I absolutely love road course racing. Although the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series is finished with road course racing, fans get to see the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Mosport in Canada next weekend. Road course racing is some of the best of the season. Names in the Xfinity Series were certainly made over the past month with the three road course races and short tracks. Hopefully, we will continue to see the resurgence of road course racing. Every road course provides its own challenges, which is something that some ovals need!
- Youth Movement: The future of NASCAR is bright. Three of the top-five finishers in the Pure Michigan 400 are and were rookies within the past three years. We are beginning to see the changing of the guard to a new youth movement. “Kids Drive NASCAR” is a huge youth initiative started by NASCAR to attract the younger fans to the sport that many of us grew up on. I applaud NASCAR for their continued efforts in trying to reach a younger demographic. Much to the demise of the “older” NASCAR fans, you have to embrace change in order to keep the sport relevant. I applaud the efforts by the sanctioning body in trying to keep NASCAR relevant.
What are your five takeaways from the events at Michigan and Road America?
Harvick Wins Rain-Delayed Bristol Night Race
Kevin Harvick holds off weather and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to win the almost 24-hour long Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, and Chris Buescher rounded out the top-five. Harvick started from 24th to win today’s race. This is Harvick’s 33rd victory in 561 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series started.
“We should have won a lot of race this year, and we’ve just had things not go our way, made mistakes, or whatever the case may be, but to get back in victory lane here at bristol feels really good. We’ve had some good cars here the last few years. And to have Busch Beers on the car, we’ve had some crap luck with these guys on the car. Just really happy for Busch Beers and Jimmie Johns, and really proud for all these guys on the 4 team,” said Kevin Harvick in post-race victory lane interview.
“Just frustrating. Starting sixth on that last restart with him (Harvick) starting on the front row was tough. We were going to have to get everything perfect. It took me a minute to get the top going, but I wanted to give up there, but I remembered we had Bryan Clauson’s tribute car here. The guys dug deep to make our Fastenal Ford a lot better. We really wanted to park in victory lane for his whole family, friends, and fans. We were just a little bit short. I thought we were matching lap times there at the end; I just needed a restart or to start a little bit closer. I am definitely happy with how the weekend ended,” said second place finisher, Stenhouse Jr. post race.
Despite the race was delayed due to lightening in the area, the race began shortly after 9:00 pm eastern on Saturday night. Drivers were debating on whether to run high or on the bottom, but the lower groove prevailed at the beginning of the race. After getting the race underway for 31 laps, rain returned to the Bristol area bringing out the caution and ultimately the red flag. As the track dried, the engines refired shortly after 10:40 pm eastern. The red flag was displayed for 1 hour 24 minute and 4 seconds. While the cars were on the track and the jet dryers were finishing up drying pit road, the rain returned on lap 47. The race was postponed shortly after 11:20 pm eastern, and was scheduled to begin at 1 pm on Sunday. However, when 1 pm came on Sunday, rain was still a factor, delaying the even more. The red flag was lifted shortly after 4:30PM (EST). Green flag racing resumed on lap 58. When the race resumed, drivers were on the high and low lines trying to gain positions. The first half of the race was a dominating performance and a blistering pace set Kyle Busch, who lead 184 of 250 laps in the opening portion of the race.
Just as the race crept past halfway, the caution flew for debris. Busch continued his early dominance from the first half of the race into the second half. Tony Stewart, who had a terrible qualifying effort at Bristol, ended behind the wall to fix the tire vibration issues, but did return back on the speedway. The bottom and high line began to equalize in the second half of the race. Teams began to play cat and mouse on pit road in an effort to restart on the outside line. After dominating most of the are, Ky. Busch reported that the rear-end housing might be broken, but ended up crashing before heading to the garage. Unlike the first half of the race, cautions were breeding cautions. Weather brought out a caution on lap 433, but cars were brought onto pit road with 54 laps remaining as the red flag delayed. After a brief timeout the red flag was lifted after 6 minutes, 47 seconds. The end of the race went business as usual. The second half of the race was dominated and ultimately won by Harvick and the 4 team.
Overall, the 56th annual Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway say 20 lead changes among 8 different drivers. Ky. Busch led 256 laps, the most laps led, before getting caught up in an accident. The caution flag flew nine times for a total of 106 laps. The red flag was displayed three times all for weather. The average speed of the race was 77.968 mph. The official time of race was 3 hours, 25 minutes, and 5 seconds. The margin of victory was 1.933 seconds.
Harvick continues his reign as the point leader. Brad Keselowski is 27 points behind, Kurt Busch is 70 points behind, Carl Edwards is 73 points back, and Joey Logano rounds out the top five behind 78 points.
The Chase for the Sprint Cup grid has shifted some after today’s race. Buescher has raced his way into the top-30 and points, shifting the grid to only four spots remaining in the next three races. Ryan Newman is currently in the 12th spot on the grid. Because of Beuscher’s run, Kyle Larson was bumped out of the Chase.
The next race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to the Irish Hills of Michigan for the second time in 2016 for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Alex Bowman will be in the no. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy at Michigan if Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not medically cleared to race due to concussion-like symptoms. The Pure Michigan 400 will be on NBCSN and Motor Racing Network beginning at 2:00PM (EST).