It had been eight years, but Kevin Harvick has won again at Michigan International Speedway.
Leading 108 of the 200 laps in the Consumers Energy 400, Harvick scored the victory ahead of Brad Keselowski. The win, his first at Michigan since 2010, was his seventh in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Harvick ties Bill Elliott for 17th on the all-time Cup Series wins list with 44 career triumphs. But perhaps more special was Harvick’s post-race celebration with son Keelan, who grabbed the checkered flag and rode with Harvick to Victory Lane.
“Keelan told me, ‘If you win, I want to go out on the track and get the checkered flag,'” Harvick said. “You can get the checkered flag but you have to ride around with me on the victory lap. Pretty awesome to be a part of NASCAR and bring your kids to work to experience these types of things.”
Keselowski tied his best finish of 2018, as Austin Dillon dropped out of the position due to a loose wheel on the last lap. For Keselowski, a runner-up finish was worth something at his home track.
“It was a good rally day,” Keselowski said. “I feel like we keep knocking on the door here. It’s frustrating and rewarding at the same side because we’ve had struggles. It’s nice to get a good run underneath us.”
Still, Dillon managed to limp home to a fourth-place finish, his first top five since the Daytona 500 win in February.
“Man, we had a fast car,” said Dillon, who started fifth and led five laps. “So proud of the guys for having a car capable of doing that. That stunk. We were in position to where if something happened to the No. 4, we could win the race. with two to go, it was shaking like a loose wheel.
“I didn’t want to lose this great finish and brought it in the top five at least.”
Kyle Busch was third at the checkereds. The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota looked like the car to beat early, passing Harvick and pole-sitter Denny Hamlin for the lead on lap 15. He led the field for 22 laps before Harvick took control.
Though the race ended with a 57-lap green run, the race never seemed to get its toes in line until then. With Erik Jones spinning twice, Ryan Newman also lost control in Turn 2, before Ty Dillon appeared to have run over a battery, which brought out another yellow on lap 134. The two stages also diced up what could have been long green-flag runs.
“Just a dumb move on [Byron’s] part that early in the race, no question,” Truex said. “William, just a rookie mistake. He went in way too deep just thinking I was going to give him the middle lane.
Still, the Furniture Row Racing driver managed 14th at the line.
“It was one of those days,” he said. “Nothing went our way. We spun early, that hurt us. Got damage to our car, that hurt. But we were able to recover. Then the penalty, just a snowball effect.
“What we can take out of today is that we got the car a lot better. We had speed. We were up there saving fuel while leading and they couldn’t do anything with us.”