BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — Kevin Harvick got his groove back, fittingly at one of his favorite tracks.
Harvick ended a 65- race winless drought that lasted nearly nearly two years with his sixth victory at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday.
“Good timing, for sure,” he said.
The No. 4 Ford pulled away from Bubba Wallace and the rest the field following a restart with 35 laps to go. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took advantage of clean air, helping him coast to his 59th victory, including five wins since 2018 on the two-mile oval in the Irish Hills region of southern Michigan.
Wallace finished second in his No. 23 Toyota — 2.9 seconds behind Harvick — followed by Denny Hamlin in his No. 11 Toyota.
Harvick had not won since claiming a NASCAR Cup Series postseason race on Sept. 19, 2020, at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“It’s been a while,” he acknowledged. “Michigan has been a great place for us.”
Harvick’s latest win shakes up the playoff race with just three races remaining in the regular season, leaving little time for drivers to earn a spot in the 16-car postseason, and gives a boost for a veteran that entered the weekend No. 17 in points.
“Everybody that doubted us doesn’t know us,” he said.
NASCAR has had 15 different Cup winners this season, closing in on the playoff-era record of 16, set last year. There’s a chance that a driver with a victory could be eliminated from the 16-car playoff with a tiebreaker based on points.
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.
“It was a complete mess,” he said.
BUSCH’S BAD DAY
Kyle Busch had another frustrating day, getting knocked out of the race on lap 25 due to the multi-car crash following a restart that also knocked out Cindric.
“I can’t buy a break right now,” said Busch, who was the favorite to win the race, per FanDuel Sportsbook.
Busch has failed to finish in the top 10 in eight straight races, the longest streak of the two-time champion’s career, and he does not have a contract for next year. Three days before racing at Michigan, he and his wife and their two young children escaped the Mall of America in Minnesota after shots were fired.
NASCAR shifts to Richmond Raceway in Virginia, one of the last three races of the regular season. Hamlin won at Richmond in April.