Kansas NASCAR: Kevin Harvick boosts Cup title hopes with win
|Sunday, October 6th 2013, 22:05 GMT|
Kevin Harvick brought himself back into contention for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup title with an ultimately dominant win at Kansas Speedway.
The Richard Childress Racing driver had started from pole and led over half the race thanks to long stints up front at the beginning and end.
In between, he was on a recovery mission, having plunged down the order when he pitted under green just before a debris yellow in the early stages.
Going off-sequence on strategy mid-race brought Harvick back into the lead group, where he proved to have the quickest package.
The race featured a track-record 15 cautions, but in a longer green-flag run to the finish, Harvick was able to pull out a two-second lead over second and third-placed finishers Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon.
Busch had come through from the rear of the field after crashing his Furniture Row Chevrolet in practice and requiring a switch to his back-up car.
Gordon fell foul of the same mid-pit-sequence caution as Harvick in the first part of the race, before recovering to lead the Hendrick group in third.
Joey Logano also had a spell up front before finishing fourth for Penske, whereas Carl Edwards was never a contender but ultimately picked his way through to fifth.
Edwards regained that place on the last lap when title contender Jimmie Johnson suddenly lost power. He was able to limp home losing only one place and is now just three points behind leader Matt Kenseth in the standings.
Kenseth was yet another race leader, despite finding his Joe Gibbs Toyota's handling "evil", before a pit speeding penalty proved very costly.
Paul Menard had one of his strongest races of the year, fighting for the lead repeatedly before ending up seventh, ahead of early frontrunner Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Outgoing champion Brad Keselowski lost ground when he pitted early in the first stint in the belief he had a tyre problem. He got back to the front with an out-of-sequence strategy, only to run out of fuel just before his last pitstop, leaving him 17th.
While Harvick's win brings him to within 25 points of the lead approaching the Chase's mid-point, Kyle Busch's title hopes faded at Kansas.
He joined his brother at the back following a practice crash, spun on lap one avoiding an accident that immediately eliminated Danica Patrick, then later had separate collisions with Juan Pablo Montoya and Edwards, the latter ending his race (pictured).
Results - 267 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 3h29m10.000s 2. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet +1.140s 3. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +1.811s 4. Joey Logano Penske Ford +3.774s 5. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +6.917s 6. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet +7.681s 7. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +8.274s 8. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet +8.575s 9. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford +10.581s 10. Aric Almirola Petty Ford +11.779s 11. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota +11.949s 12. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet +13.056s 13. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +13.630s 14. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +13.935s 15. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet +14.159s 16. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet +14.706s 17. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford +14.767s 18. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet +15.712s 19. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota +16.190s 20. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Toyota +17.859s 21. Casey Mears Germain Ford +20.486s 22. Mark Martin Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +20.688s 23. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota +21.567s 24. David Gilliland Front Row Ford +23.238s 25. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet +23.679s 26. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota +25.108s 27. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet +25.978s 28. Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford +27.448s 29. Tony Raines Hillman Chevrolet +27.688s 30. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford +1 lap 31. Cole Whitt Swan Toyota +7 laps Retirements: Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 242 laps Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet 235 laps* Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 199 laps Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 188 laps* David Ragan Front Row Ford 168 laps David Reutimann BK Toyota 157 laps* Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 144 laps Justin Allgaier Phoenix Chevrolet 135 laps Josh Wise Front Row Ford 108 laps Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 107 laps Reed Sorenson Leavine Ford 103 laps Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 0 laps * Running again at chequered flag