Kevin Harvick Wins Rain-Delayed Bristol Night Race

Kevin Harvick Wins at Bristol
Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images

In a race that seemed like it would never end, Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag in Sunday’s rain-delayed Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Harvick passed race leader Denny Hamlin with 71 laps to go and hung on through one final red-flag for rain with 49 laps to go to beat out Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. by nearly two seconds for his second win of the season and second-career Bristol victory.

Hamlin held on to finish third, followed by Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher.

Harvick led 128 laps over the course of the race, which ended Nearly 24 hours after the scheduled green flag on Saturday night.

After crossing the finish line, Harvick invited his team co-owner and teammate Tony Stewart to join in on the celebratory burnouts on the frontstretch in honor of Stewart’s last race at Bristol.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] "I wanted him to go on a victory lap with me and say goodbye to all the fans one last time here at Bristol. But that was pretty cool, doing burnouts with him," said Harvick. "We should have won a lot of races this year but we just had things not go our way. We made mistakes, or whatever the case may be. But, to get back into Victory Lane here at Bristol feels really good."

Under persistently overcast and gloomy skies, the race took the green flag on Saturday night after a one hour delay for rain, with Hamlin jumping out to an early lead over pole sitter Carl Edwards.

Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch combined to lead the opening 32 laps before the skies opened up just after 9 pm.

NASCAR made a concerted effort to get the race restarted, but after two red flags, race officials finally threw in the towel just before 11:30 pm.

More rain showers on Sunday’s pushed the restart back past 4:30, when the green flag finally went back in the air on lap 48 with Kyle Busch still out front.

Busch led for a race-high 256 laps as the Joe Gibbs Racing powerhouse of Busch, Hamlin and Edwards traded the lead for the first 250 laps.

Harvick passes Kyle Busch
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Harvick led for the first time on lap 286 after passing Kyle Busch – the start of a 62-lap duel where the two drivers traded the lead three times before Busch began to fall back after reporting something was "broken" on his No. 18 Toyota.

On lap 359, whatever was "broken" on Busch’s car finally broke, sending him spinning in front of the entire field and triggering a four-car crash to also damaged Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Larson, while Justin Allgaier, subbing for the ailing Michael Annett in the No. 46 Chevrolet, nailed Busch’s stalled race car.

And just like that, Kyle Busch’s night was over, and he wouldn’t be the last of the race favorites to wind up behind the wall.

Joey Logano assumed the lead following a round of pit stops under the ensuing caution with Kurt Busch running in second. Shortly after taking the green flag, Kurt Busch tried to shoot around on the outside to take the lead, but broke loose coming off turn four and spun across the racetrack, collecting Brad Keselowski. Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Elliott and Kyle Larson also got collected in the aftermath.

Following the cleanup, racing resumed with Logano still out in front trailed by Jimmie Johnson before Harvick pushed his through to take second.

Working the low side, Harvick quickly reeled in Logano and powered his way past to re-gain the top spot on lap 430.

Another rain shower brought out the red flag briefly on lap 435, but after track-drying operations the race went green the rest of the way. Harvick got a good jump on the restart with Dillon running in second.

Kevin Harvick crosses the finish line at Bristol
Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images

With Harvick running the high side, Dillon went to work on low side and managed to pull even with Harvick, but was never able to pull ahead for the lead. Stenhouse, taking a cue from Harvick, also worked along the high side and got past Hamlin for third and then Dillon for second, but by then Harvick was already out of reach.

Stenhouse, running a special paint scheme and a custom helmet in honor of his friend Bryan Clauson, who passed two weeks ago following a sprint car crash, battled back from a lap down to tie his career-best finish, which came at the spring race at Bristol in 2014.

"We really wanted to get this Bryan Clauson tribute car in victory lane. It just wasn't meant to be today," said Clauson, who tallied his third top-five finish of the season. "We made our car a lot faster throughout the race and came from two laps down to get back on the lead lap. We missed some wrecks and gave it all we had. I thought we were matching the 4 car (Harvick) there lap for lap, but he got away from us and we had to restart sixth there on that last restart, but it was an honor to drive this car."

Hamlin also gritted out a tough third-place finish, rallying back after going two laps down following a pit road speeding penalty and an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel early in the race to notch his second straight top-three finish.

"We had a great car. We definitely got it a lot better there at the end and proud that we’re able to come back from two laps down and get a good finish out of it – just came up a little short," said Hamlin. "The good thing is there was enough attrition and enough cautions that we were able to get our lap back and that was key for us."

Chris Buescher’s fifth-place finish pushed him to 30th in the points standings and now eligible for the Chase, if he can finish out the final three races before the cutoff.

"I don't know exactly where we're at quite yet, but I know we had to get there," said Buescher. "That's Chase eligibility in one race out of the four we had to do it. Now, we have to hold onto it."

Edwards, Johnson, Jamie McMurray, A.J. Allmendinger and Logano rounded out the top ten finishers.

Race Results

Pos # Driver Make Start Laps Led Status Points
1 4 Kevin Harvick Chevy 24 500 128 Running 44
2 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 25 500 0 Running 39
3 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 2 500 19 Running 39
4 3 Austin Dillon Chevy 13 500 0 Running 37
5 34 Chris Buescher Ford 12 500 0 Running 36
6 19 Carl Edwards Toyota 1 500 31 Running 36
7 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 16 500 0 Running 34
8 1 Jamie McMurray Chevy 28 500 0 Running 33
9 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevy 8 500 0 Running 32
10 22 Joey Logano Ford 10 500 38 Running 32
11 88 Jeff Gordon Chevy 11 500 0 Running 30
12 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 22 500 0 Running 29
13 5 Kasey Kahne Chevy 19 500 0 Running 28
14 43 Aric Almirola Ford 17 500 0 Running 27
15 24 Chase Elliott Chevy 6 500 14 Running 27
16 16 Greg Biffle Ford 34 500 0 Running 25
17 83 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota 18 500 0 Running 24
18 44 Brian Scott Ford 30 499 5 Running 24
19 95 Michael McDowell Chevy 26 499 0 Running 22
20 38 Landon Cassill Ford 32 497 0 Running 21
21 23 David Ragan Toyota 37 497 0 Running 20
22 10 Danica Patrick Chevy 29 496 0 Running 19
23 78 Martin Truex Jr Toyota 7 496 0 Running 18
24 42 Kyle Larson Chevy 23 495 0 Running 17
25 13 Casey Mears Chevy 21 495 0 Running 16
26 7 Regan Smith Chevy 33 491 0 Running 15
27 55 Reed Sorenson Chevy 36 489 0 Running 14
28 31 Ryan Newman Chevy 15 487 9 Running 14
29 32 Jeffrey Earnhardt Ford 38 479 0 Running 12
30 14 Tony Stewart Chevy 27 471 0 Running 11
31 15 Clint Bowyer Chevy 31 470 0 Running 10
32 27 Paul Menard Chevy 20 458 0 Running 9
33 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 9 458 0 Running 8
34 98 Cole Whitt Chevy 35 442 0 Running 7
35 21 Ryan Blaney Ford 4 437 0 Running 6
36 30 Josh Wise Chevy 40 416 0 Running 5
37 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 5 373 0 Accident 4
38 41 Kurt Busch Chevy 14 372 0 Accident 3
39 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 3 357 256 Accident 4
40 46 Justin Allgaier Chevy 39 354 0 Accident 0

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]

Leave a Reply