Harvick edges Hamlin in final-lap clash to win in Loudon

Kevin Harvick wins at Louden
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The drought is over.

Blanked for 21 straight races, Kevin Harvick was winless in 2019 until he held off Denny Hamlin on older tires to win Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The victory was Harvick’s fourth at the Magic Mile, most among active drivers and tied with Jeff Burton for most all-time. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang won his second-straight race at the one-mile flat track and his third in the last five events.

Crew chief Rodney Childers made the winning call to keep Harvick on track on older tires, when Hamlin pitted for right-side rubber on Lap 266, under caution for Kyle Larson’s spin in Turn 2. Hamlin restarted fourth, quickly moved to second and chased Harvick for the final 29 laps.

On the final circuit, Hamlin got to Harvick’s bumper in Turn 1 and gave the No. 4 Ford Mustang a tap, but Hamlin’s Toyota Camry couldn’t clear Harvick, who pulled ahead on the backstretch. Harvick hugged the bottom through Turns 3 and 4 as Hamlin moved to the outside, trying to take advantage of the traction compound in the higher lane.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]But when Hamlin pulled alongside, Harvick drove to the right, hitting Hamlin and slowing his momentum. Harvick crossed the finish line .210 seconds ahead of Hamlin, who had led 113 laps before making his final pit stop.

Even as he lined up for the final restart on Lap 273, Harvick wasn’t sure Childers had made the right call, but the uncertainty disappeared when Harvick was first to the stripe.

"I didn't think we had the best chance to win today but Rodney made a great call," said Harvick, who led the last 41 laps. "We had a good car today. We just never could get track position. We stayed out there and ran a lot of good laps.

Lapped traffic on the final two circuits enabled Hamlin to make up ground and made Harvick’s victory more difficult.

"I really didn't want to see that traffic there at the end," Harvick said. "It made my car tight when (Hamlin) got to me. He tried to move me out of the way down there and I knew that was coming, as close as he was. So I just stood on the brakes—half-throttle down the back straightaway.

"I was like, 'You're not getting under me again,' and he drove to the outside of me and I waited until he got to the outside of me and put a wheel on him."

As he watched a replay of the final lap, Hamlin was already second-guessing himself.

Kevin Harvick (4) edges Denny Hamlin (11) for his first win of the season
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

"Well, I kind of shoved him up a little higher and tried to get him out of the groove," said Hamlin, who was in a backup No. 11 Toyota Camry after crashing his primary car in practice. "I'm kind of watching it back right now. I mean, yeah, I wanted to just tap him there, but I didn't want to completely screw him. I at least wanted to give him a fair shot there. Down the backstretch, I kind of let off, and I'm like, ‘All right, well, I'll just pass him on the outside and kind of do this thing the right way,’ and once I had that big run, he just turned right. But I would do the same thing. It was a fun race, and congratulations to him and his team. They made a great call there at the end."

Erik Jones finished third, overcoming contact with Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on pit road and a subsequent speeding penalty. Ryan Blaney ran fourth, followed by Matt DiBenedetto, who posted his second top-five result of the season.

Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and polesitter Brad Keselowski completed the top 10. Busch led a race-high 118 of 301 laps but lost track position when he had to return to pit road under caution on Lap 153 to fix a tire rub. He later hit the wall on lap 214 to cause the seventh of nine cautions but rallied to score a top 10.

Busch won the first stage of the event, and eventual 11th-place finisher Aric Almirola took the second stage.

Results

Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Pts Status
1 14 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Beer/National Forest Foundation Ford 301 46 Running
2 23 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 301 42 Running
3 4 20 Erik Jones STANLEY Toyota 301 43 Running
4 5 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Sylvania Ford 301 37 Running
5 7 95 Matt DiBenedetto Procore Toyota 301 32 Running
6 6 19 Martin Truex Jr Sirius XM Toyota 301 36 Running
7 26 6 Ryan Newman Oscar Mayer/Velveeta Ford 301 38 Running
8 2 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota 301 45 Running
9 8 22 Joey Logano AAA Insurance Ford 301 37 Running
10 1 2 Brad Keselowski Alliance Truck Parts Ford 301 33 Running
11 9 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 301 44 Running
12 22 24 William Byron Liberty University Chevrolet 301 32 Running
13 17 21 Paul Menard Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 301 26 Running
14 37 88 Alex Bowman Axalta Chevrolet 301 23 Running
15 25 37 Chris Buescher Scott Comfort Plus Chevrolet 301 22 Running
16 18 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Military Chevrolet 301 21 Running
17 24 34 Michael McDowell Dockside Logistics Ford 301 20 Running
18 3 1 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Chevrolet 301 20 Running
19 13 41 Daniel Suarez Haas Automation Ford 300 19 Running
20 16 14 Clint Bowyer Toco Warranty/Haas Automation Ford 300 24 Running
21 28 47 Ryan Preece # Kroger Chevrolet 300 16 Running
22 27 43 Bubba Wallace Victory Junction Chevrolet 300 15 Running
23 29 32 Corey LaJoie WeirsMotorSales/AdirondackTreeSurgeons Ford 299 14 Running
24 30 36 Matt Tifft # Louis Kemp Crab Delights Ford 299 13 Running
25 32 15 Ross Chastain(i) YVARS Branding.com Chevrolet 299 0 Running
26 31 00 Landon Cassill(i) StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 298 0 Running
27 33 27 * Reed Sorenson VIP RacingExperience.com Chevrolet 294 10 Running
28 35 51 Andy Seuss JACOB COMPANIES Ford 291 9 Running
29 12 9 Chase Elliott Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet 290 8 Running
30 10 48 Jimmie Johnson Ally Chevrolet 288 7 Running
31 34 77 Quin Houff #MyTrackMyRoots Chevrolet 287 6 Running
32 21 3 Austin Dillon BEHR ULTRA Chevrolet 268 5 Running
33 15 42 Kyle Larson McDonald's Chevrolet 264 8 Accident
34 20 38 David Ragan Compressor World Ford 261 3 Running
35 36 52 Austin Theriault BANGOR SAVINGS BANK Chevrolet 185 2 Rear Gear
36 11 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fastenal Ford 135 1 Accident
37 19 8 Daniel Hemric # Okuma Chevrolet 110 1 Accident

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