Today brings the second race of a double-header weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Yesterday’s winner, Kevin Harvick, looked to sweep the weekend at Michigan.
Per NASCAR’s rules on a double-header weekend, the results from yesterday’s race are to be inverted. By virtue, Kevin Harvick found himself with the starting position of 20th. Clint Bowyer and William Byron led the field to green shortly after 1:45 pm PST. Bowyer held the lead while Jimmie Johnson made his way to second. With no challengers in sight, Clint Bowyer claimed the Stage One green-and-white checkered flag. All lead lap cars entered the pit road for service with Kyle Busch exiting first and Harvick following in second.
Kyle Busch restarted the race on Lap 48 with William Byron to his inside. Bolstered by a strong push from Kevin Harvick, Busch held the lead going through the first two turns. Harvick went to Busch’s outside and snatched the lead away, picking up where he left off yesterday. A second, uneventful stage went to Harvick, who held off Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. All lead lap cars came down to the pits for tires and fuel. Harvick maintained his lead as Kyle Busch moved up one position.
Harvick, as has been custom this weekend, started on the outside row with Denny Hamlin to the inside. Ryan Blaney gave Denny Hamlin a shove and was able to get past Harvick. Blaney utilized the inside lane and got by Hamlin for the lead with Hamlin and Harvick battling it out for second. Brad Keselowski charged to the inside of Blaney, looking to take the lead. Keselowski could not hold his line and slid into Blaney’s car. Both cars made hard contact with the outside wall, ending both driver’s days.
Denny Hamlin restarted the race with Kyle Busch to his inside, with 55 laps left in the race. Harvick maneuvered around Hamlin for the lead as Clint Bowyer made an unscheduled pit stop due to a tire rub. Christopher Bell brought out the caution on Lap 105 as he spun going into Turn One with a flat tire. Most lead lap cars pitted with Denny Hamlin and Matt DiBenedetto emerging first and second, taking no tires.
Due to a miscommunication on pit road strategy, Aric Almirola restarted the race as the leader with Kevin Harvick to the inside. Almirola was able to fight off Harvick and maintained the lead with Harvick keeping pace in second. Going down the backstretch, Harvick took the lead back with a pass to the inside of Almirola. With 20 laps left in the race, Alex Bowman slowed with a flat tire. The tire carcass rolled onto the track surface, causing a caution. Most drivers stayed on the track, but Almirola needed to pit due to his earlier miscommunication.
Harvick brought the field back to green with 15 laps to go as Hamlin pulled along to the inside. Harvick was able to maintain the lead as Truex Jr. and Hamlin battled for second. Denny Hamlin would not let Harvick getaway as the race became a battle between the two drivers. Though Hamlin mounted a valiant attempt at snatching away the lead, Harvick edged Hamlin by .093 seconds to sweep the weekend.
The second NASCAR double-header weekend proved that this type of schedule should be used by NASCAR more often. Even as Harvick was able to sweep Michigan, the weekend double-header showcased some fun racing and was an entertaining watch. What were your thoughts on today’s race?
The Monster Energy Cup Series drivers will find themselves at the Daytona Road Course next Sunday.