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Kansas NASCAR: Kevin Harvick boosts Cup title hopes with win

Kevin Harvick wins Kansas NASCAR race 2013

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.

Kyle Busch crash, Kansas NASCAR 2013

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


     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
Daytona Competition
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Harvick claims Kansas pole