Kevin Harvick earned his fifth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the year on Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, passing Martin Truex Jr. with two laps remaining in the KC Masterpiece 400.Harvick’s win denied Truex a three-peat in Kansas. Truex swept the 2017 races at the speedway.
The two drivers dueled on a restart on Lap 259 of 267, each challenging the other hard, but clean. Harvick got the better end of that battle coming to the white flag, using power and momentum to get around the 2017 champion through Turns 3 and 4 on the top, ultimately pulling away to victory by .390 seconds.
“I think, as you look at the last couple of laps, it wasn’t working for me on the bottom, and I was able to make up some ground on the top,” Harvick said. “I thought, if it came down to it, I could pass him on the bottom, because my car went through (Turns) 1 and 2 on the bottom, or I could drive through the middle of 3 and 4, but I just had to pick which lane. He wasn’t going to choose, and he never chose the high lane, and we were able to drive right by.”
The 1-2 battle to the finish was set up when Truex took command of the field by staying out on older tires on a Lap 248 caution. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson made contact going through Turn 1 as Blaney aggressively side-drafted Larson. Larson was able to continue, charging to a fourth-place finish. Blaney, who led 54 laps, was knocked out of the race with substantial damage to his Penske ford.
The harshest accident of the evening, which set up the final restart, occurred exiting Turn 4 on Lap 253. William Byron got loose underneath Clint Bowyer, knocking Bowyer’s Ford up the track, while shooting Byron’s Chevrolet violently into the outside wall, landing on the hood of Ryan Newman’s Chevrolet. Byron’s car slid down the frontstretch, coming to rest with fire underneath the front of his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Byron walked away from the crash unhurt. Five other cars were collected in the incident, including the Ford of Matt Kenseth, who was running his first race of 2018, reuniting with Roush-Fenway Racing. Kenseth’s night ended in the garage in 36th position.
Joey Logano ended the night in Kansas in third, followed by Larson and Hamlin. Paul Menard, Erik Jones, Kurt Bush, Aric Almirola and Kyle Bush rounded-out positions 6-10.
Next up for the series is two weeks home at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the 2018 All-Star Race on Saturday, May 19th, followed by NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600, Sunday, May 27th.
Track Talk will not be featured this week in preparation for a 2-for-1 show next week, recapping the All-Star race and previewing the 600 on Memorial Day weekend.