Brooklyn, Mich. — Kevin Harvick tossed aside early problems to win the Consumers Energy 400 Sunday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway.
It was the third win at MIS for Harvick, who also won in August 2010 with Richard Childress Racing and in his No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing last year.
Harvick passed defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano with 17 laps remaining and led the rest of the way for his second win of the season in the new Ford Mustang.
It was Ford’s fourth straight win at MIS with Logano, a Team Penske driver, winning the June race.
“Our car handled really well today, and we were able to run all three lanes pretty well and make our way through traffic,” Harvick said. “We were a really fast race car on the track, and we were able to capitalize on it which is always fun.
“For me, I felt like the key to winning the race was getting around the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski). I felt like in clean air he was going to be the hardest one to pass. I felt like the No. 22 (Logano) fell off as the runs went. My car was still handling really well, top, bottom and middle.”
While other drivers struggled with fuel late in the race — Keselowski and Logano needed to go down pit road during the final 12 laps — Harvick had no worries.
“They (crew chief Rodney Childers) told me I was one or two laps to the good, so when I got the lead and got a good enough distance, then I tried to start managing the throttle,” Harvick said of his fuel situation. “It’s a lot easier to manage that gap than it is to manage passing and saving (fuel). We were even able to do some burnouts and drive back to Victory Lane.”
Denny Hamlin finished second in his No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing while Kyle Larson finished third in his No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Martin Truex Jr. finished fourth for JGR, followed by Daniel Suarez, Harvick’s SHR teammate.
“We were right there, had a really fast car,” Hamlin said. “Nothing that I could really do, just didn’t have enough speed. The No. 4 (Harvick) was about a half-a-second faster than us in qualifying. That last run we were down a little bit on speed to keep up with those guys.”
Harvick, 43, was thrilled to celebrate his win with his 7-year-old son Keelan, who went and got the checkered flag then took a Victory Lap ride with his dad.
“We stepped it up a little bit today, able to do a straight-line burnout and a donut,” said Harvick, who won the series championship in 2014 for SHR. “I made him (Keelan) put my helmet on in case he flew out the side. We did some burnouts so that was cool.”
Harvick had to take an early pit stop when he suffered a cut tire on Lap 34 when he was running second behind Rochester Hills native and pole sitter Keselowski but returned to finish sixth in Stage 1.
Keselowski, who has won three times this season, was running third with 12 to go but didn’t have enough fuel to finish. He went to pit road for fuel and finished 19th to remain winless in 21 races at MIS.
“Man, I want this one so bad,” Keselowski said. “We got that flat tire early on (Lap 115) and we recovered and got up to third there in the late stages and then we just ran out of gas. That is just the way it goes sometimes.”
Byron, Michigan native Erik Jones finished 18th for JGR and is still in search of his first win of the season.
Logano won the June race at MIS, which showcased NASCAR’s new rules package that has the cars having less horsepower and more drag and downforce. He was running second behind Harvick with four laps remaining, but had to go down pit lane for fuel and finished 17th.
This weekend, NASCAR added a new element by putting the PJ1 — an abrasive compound to the track to increase traction — into play for the first time at MIS.
The PJ1 was located on the outside of the track and seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson got up there early in the race, resulting in his No. 48 Chevrolet hitting the wall and causing damage to his right corner panel.
Johnson entered the day in a tie for 16th and final playoff spot with Ryan Newman. Johnson was four laps down and in last place by the end of Stage 1.
Newman finished 12th in his No. 6 Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing and now sits 15th in points, jumping past Clint Bowyer, who finished 37th, and Johnson, who finished 34th. There are three races left before the 16-driver field is set for the playoff opener Sept. 15 at Las Vegas.
Truex was dealt a blow when he was sent to the back of the pack to start Sunday’s race for failing to pass inspection. He didn’t just fail the inspection once, but multiple times and had a crew member ejected from taking part in the race.
No problem. Truex made sure he would show his talent and his No. 19 Toyota Camry’s speed in his 500th career start, making his way up front to win Stage 1.
Truex (four) and his JGR teammates Kyle Busch (four) and Hamlin (three) had combined to win 11 of the series’ 22 races.
And JGR drivers showed it would be a threat to add on to that total when Hamlin passed Truex for the lead with five laps left in Stage 1, before Truex returned the favor by getting past Hamlin on the inside on the next lap and going on to get the stage win.
Keselowski led early in Stage 2 in his No. 2 Ford Mustang, but Truex passed him for the top spot with 30 laps to go in the stage, and then Hamlin and Kurt Busch slipped by Keselowski soon after.
Truex and Hamlin continued to run first and second until the second set of pit stops just past the midway point of the race on the two-mile track.
On a restart with one lap left in Stage 2, Jones pushed Kyle Busch past Truex for the stage win while Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola and Daniel Hemric all collided, leaving Almirola’s No. 10 Ford badly damaged.
Truex went in for tires and fuel and started Stage 3 in 19th place. He could never recover.
“It was a hot rod early,” Truex said. “We were able to drive by everybody. The first couple of runs of the race were really sporty. To get up there and win Stage 1 was a big deal. I felt through the middle of the race we had the best car.
"Just those last couple of restarts, we got off sequence and lost all of our track position and restarted 19th. We just could not get in the right spot."
Kevin Harvick won for the third time at MIS, all in the August race:
2010: Stared eighth and led 60 laps; Denny Hamlin was second and Carl Edwards was third.
2018: Started third and led 108 laps; Brad Keselowski was second and Kyle Busch was third.
2019: Started second and led 22 laps; Denny Hamlin was second and Kyle Larson was third.