NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR: Results and 3 takeaways from Kevin Harvick’s Michigan win. The bottom line?

Kevin Harvick celebrates his victory, his seventh of the Cup Series season, in Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway as his son, Keelan, sits in the car.
Kevin Harvick celebrates his victory, his seventh of the Cup Series season, in Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway as his son, Keelan, sits in the car. AP

Kevin Harvick won the Consumers Energy 400 on Sunday, his seventh win of the season, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway:

1. The Big 3 continue to one-up each other

It’s been back and forth for Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch all season long, as they try to usurp one another on a week-to-week basis. Harvick will rip off a few wins, and then Busch will match him, and then Truex will win one.. And while there’s a clear pecking order in terms of wins, there really isn’t much separating the No. 4 team from the No. 78 or No. 18. It will be interesting, as we get into the playoffs, to see if that same pattern repeats itself – or if for the first time this year, it doesn’t.

2. Playoff drivers are nearly set

The Big 3 are always the talk of the top of the NASCAR leaderboard, but what about those drivers on the playoff fringe? Names such as Alex Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and even seven-time Cup Series champ Jimmie Johnson are all on the bubble. But with each passing week, the likelihood of the playoff bubble shifting becomes less and less likely. Bowman and Johnson are currently marked as in, while Stenhouse would find himself on the outside looking in. There’s still technically a few ways for that order to change, but it would take some substantial results (good or bad) to upset that order.

3. Is there a real fourth challenger for the Big 3?

You could make an argument that Clint Bowyer has been the fourth-best driver this NASCAR season, obviously behind the Big 3. Or you could pine for Kurt Busch. Heck, you could even make a case for Kyle Larson. And while all three have had fine seasons, realistically, they’re not even in the same realm as any of the Big 3. Harvick, Busch and Truex have just been too dominant this season for any driver to realistically catch them. The current playoff configuration rewards regular-season success; those three have it, in droves. Everyone else? Not so much. Or in other words, is there a real fourth challenger for the Big 3? Long answer short: no.

BenWallace
Ben Wallace, honorary pace car driver for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, flexes his muscles before the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Paul Sancya AP

Consumers Energy 400

The full race results, from the Associated Press:

Sunday At Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.

Lap length: 2 miles

(Starting position in parentheses)

1. (3) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 200.

2. (18) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 200.

3. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 200.

4. (5) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.

5. (8) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 200.

6. (12) Kurt Busch, Ford, 200.

7. (11) Aric Almirola, Ford, 200.

8. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200.

9. (21) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 200.

10. (9) Joey Logano, Ford, 200.

11. (40) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 200.

12. (16) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 200.

13. (4) Erik Jones, Toyota, 200.

14. (7) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 200.

15. (6) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 200.

16. (14) Paul Menard, Ford, 200.

17. (17) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200.

18. (13) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 200.

19. (10) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 200.

20. (23) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 200.

21. (15) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 200.

22. (25) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 199.

23. (22) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 199.

24. (30) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 199.

25. (29) Michael McDowell, Ford, 199.

26. (28) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 199.

27. (24) David Ragan, Ford, 199.

28. (19) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 198.

29. (31) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 197.

30. (39) Blake Jones, Toyota, 194.

31. (33) BJ McLeod, Ford, 194.

32. (36) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 193.

33. (34) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 191.

34. (26) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Engine, 189.

35. (35) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Axle, 187.

36. (20) William Byron, Chevrolet, 187.

37. (37) Timmy HillChevrolet, Electrical, 138.

38. (27) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 131.

39. (38) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, Engine, 102.

40. (32) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Engine, 37.

Harvick2
Kevin Harvick celebates Sunday’s win – his 44th career victory at the NASCAR Cup Series level – at Michigan International Speedway. Paul Sancya AP

RACE STATISTICS

Average Speed of Race Winner: 140.474 mph.

Time of Race: 02 Hrs, 50 Mins, 51 Secs. Margin of Victory: 3.233 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 8 for 37 laps.

Lead Changes: 15 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: D. Hamlin 1-13; K. Harvick 14; Kyle Busch 15-26; K. Harvick 27; Kyle Busch 28-29; K. Harvick 30-63; J. Johnson 64-67; Kyle Busch 68-75; J. Johnson 76-84; M. Truex Jr. 85-109; K. Harvick 110-170; A. Dillon 171-175; J. Logano 176; R. Newman 177-188; J. McMurray 189; K. Harvick 190-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Harvick 5 times for 108 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 25 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 22 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 13 laps; J. Johnson 2 times for 13 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 12 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 5 laps; J. McMurray 1 time for 1 lap; J. Logano 1 time for 1 lap.

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