Charlotte NASCAR: Kevin Harvick wins as rivals brawl

Kevin Harvick ended months of NASCAR Sprint Cup frustration with victory in a Charlotte race that ended in multiple pitlane brawls and with several big names' title hopes in jeopardy

Charlotte NASCAR: Kevin Harvick wins as rivals brawl

Prior to Saturday night's 500-mile event, Harvick had not won since Darlington in April - despite regularly leading and even dominating many races only to hit misfortune.

It finally came right for the Stewart-Haas driver at Charlotte Motor Speedway as he led 162 of the 334 laps, pulling out commanding leads whenever at the front.

A mid-race fear of a loose wheel proved unfounded, and a two-lap sprint to the finish after a last-gasp yellow for Brian Vickers' Toyota blowing an engine was no problem for Harvick, who held off Jeff Gordon to the flag.

There was chaos post-race as Brad Keselowski made contact with both Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth on the slowing-down lap in retaliation for earlier on-track incidents.

Keselowski also ran into Tony Stewart by accident while aiming for Kenseth on pitlane, prompting Stewart to reverse into the Penske Ford.

Those disputes continued into the garage area, with separate brawls in quick succession featuring first Hamlin and Keselowski, then Keselowski and Kenseth, as crowds of crew members and NASCAR officials tried to restrain those involved.

SPARKS FLY BETWEEN KENSETH AND KESELOWSKI

Keselowski had only finished 16th and, having already been in trouble in the points after his Kansas problems, he is now effectively relying on a win at Talladega next week to remain in the Chase.

Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr share that plight.

After struggling for speed all night, Johnson made it as far as fourth but pitted for fresh tyres under the final caution, clearly expecting others to do likewise. With all the other frontrunners staying out and only two laps after the restart to regain ground, he ended up 17th.

Earnhardt had to make multiple pitstops, incurring several penalties along the way, to try to fix a broken gearshift lever and finished 20th, one place beind Kenseth.

Kenseth, Keselowski, Johnson and Earnhardt are currently the quartet in line to be eliminated after Talladega.

Ganassi duo Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson again gave the title contenders plenty of headaches, with McMurray finishing a close third and Larson briefly leading before taking sixth.

Joey Logano, already secure in the next round after his Kansas win, was fourth ahead of pole-winner Kyle Busch.

Ryan Newman finished seventh despite spinning to avoid a collision between Logano and Danica Patrick, with fellow Chase runners Carl Edwards, Hamlin and Kasey Kahne completing the top 10.

Results - 334 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 3h26m49.000s 2. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +0.572s 3. Jamie McMurray Ganassi Chevrolet +0.980s 4. Joey Logano Penske Ford +1.306s 5. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota +1.741s 6. Kyle Larson Ganassi Chevrolet +1.840s 7. Ryan Newman Childress Chevrolet +1.957s 8. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +2.141s 9. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota +2.473s 10. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet +2.504s 11. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +2.512s 12. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Chevrolet +2.693s 13. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet +2.703s 14. Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Chevrolet +2.935s 15. Justin Allgaier HScott Chevrolet +3.095s 16. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford +3.252s 17. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet +3.343s 18. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +3.478s 19. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota +5.712s 20. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet -1 lap 21. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet -1 lap 22. Aric Almirola Petty Ford -2 laps 23. Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet -3 laps 24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford -3 laps 25. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford -3 laps 26. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet -3 laps 27. Reed Sorenson Baldwin Chevrolet -4 laps 28. Cole Whitt BK Toyota -4 laps 29. Michael McDowell Leavine Ford -4 laps 30. Alex Bowman BK Toyota -4 laps 31. Casey Mears Germain Chevrolet -5 laps 32. David Gilliland Front Row Ford -5 laps 33. Michael Annett Baldwin Chevrolet -6 laps 34. David Ragan Front Row Ford -6 laps 35. Corey LaJoie Humphrey Ford -8 laps 36. Timmy Hill Circle Sport Chevrolet -8 laps 37. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota -9 laps* 38. JJ Yeley BK Toyota -9 laps 39. Blake Koch Go FAS Ford -12 laps 40. Brett Moffitt Robinson Toyota -14 laps * Not running at finish Retirements: Josh Wise Parsons Chevrolet 178 laps Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 134 laps Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 94 laps 

CHASE STANDINGS AFTER TWO OF THREE 'CONTENDER' ROUNDS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Joey Logano 3088
2 Kyle Busch 3082
3 Kevin Harvick 3081
4 Ryan Newman 3077
5 Carl Edwards 3076
6 Jeff Gordon 3074
7 Denny Hamlin 3073
8 Kasey Kahne 3057
9 Matt Kenseth 3056
10 Brad Keselowski 3038
11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3031
12 Jimmie Johnson 3031


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