Kevin Harvick was the strongest car at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night. For the first time since Darlington in the Spring, Harvick was unencumbered by misfortune and came home with the win. The talk of the race didn’t focus on Harvick however. During the cool down lap, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin made contact. That was followed by pit lane shenanigans between Keselowski and Matt Kenseth, which ended with Tony Stewart being pulled into the fracas as well. The melee spilled over into the garage where Hamlin and Keselowski’s crews scrapped briefly. As Keselowski headed to his hauler, Kenseth bum rushed the 2012 champion, igniting another scrum to put an exclamation point on the night.
Harvick led the race six times for a total of 162 laps, including the final 17 circuits to claim his third victory of the season and punch his ticket into the round of eight. Harvick beat Jeff Gordon to the checkered flag by .571 seconds. Jamie McMurray crossed the line in the final podium position. Joey Logano came home in the fourth spot while Kyle Busch rounded out the top 5. The race was slowed by eight cautions for 39 laps. 14 drivers took turns leading the race 32 times.
The post race excitement began on a restart with 63 laps to go. Kenseth made a move to Keselowski’s outside as the field headed to turn one. Keselowski drove Kenseth into the outside wall, damaging the No. 20, who was already having a frustrating evening. Kenseth received the Lucky Dog on the final caution of the night and, while moving forward to assume his spot at the front of the pack, bounced his car off of the side of Keselowski’s. Then, on the final restart, Keselowski ran Hamlin up the track. As the cars headed down the back straight after the checkered flag, Hamlin brake checked Keselowski. Keselowski attempted to spin Hamlin but failed.
Keselowski proceeded to pit lane where he spied Kenseth and door slammed him, bouncing off of Tony Stewart’s right rear. Stewart threw his car in reverse and crumpled the nose of Keselowski’s car. The drive of the No. 2 then bypassed several cars on pit road en route to the garage. He ended up smoking his tires in the garage with many people in the general vicinity before making contact with Hamlin as they attempted to cut through the garage to their haulers. They banged off of each other more than once before pulling up to their haulers. The crews for Hamlin and Keselowski ended up in a dog pile that was quickly dispersed. Keselowski vacated the seen and headed to his hauler but was way-laid by Kenseth who attempted to steer rustle him to the ground and landed a haymaker or two before Paul Wolfe wrangled him away.
Multiple people were summoned to the Sprint Cup hauler for post altercation debriefs that could potentially lead to fines and/or penalties this week leading up to Talladega. The videos from the incidents are spreading virally across the Internet and will most certainly be used to hype up the races over the next two weeks.
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