Kevin Harvick sat on the pole and dominated the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway for his third victory of the 2013 season. It's Harvick's 22nd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. His car was almost untouchable in clean air.
"It was like driving two different racecars," Harvick said about his car in clean air and in traffic. Harvick led 138 of the 267 laps of the event.
Kurt Busch finished second with Jeff Gordon coming home third, Joey Logano fourth and Carl Edwards finished fifth. Finishing in the sixth position was Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard finished seventh with Dale Earnhardt Jr coming home eighth, Marcos Ambrose ninth and Aric Almirola finished in the tenth position.
Harvick led the field to green to start the Hollywood Casino 400, a race that would see a record 15 caution flags, the first one coming on the first lap when Danica Patrick crashed hard after losing control of her #10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and slammed the outside wall hard. David Reutimann, Cole Whitt and Kyle Busch were also involved in the accident but those drivers had minimal damage and would continue. Patrick's day was over and she didn't even make turn two of the first lap, which resulted in a 43rd place finish.
Busch had more problems on his #18 Toyota as he had to change a battery as well. When the race restarted on lap six it was Kevin Harvick pulling away from the field. Harvick's lead began to stretch and he had a two and a half second lead by lap 25. By lap 34 though Jimmie Johnson had cut Harvick's lead down to two seconds and began chasing down his fellow California native.
On lap 43 the races' second caution flag would fly when Michael McDowell stopped on the racetrack in turn three. McDowell would continue but would retire later in the event and finish 38th.
The leaders would pit and the top seven cars took two tires and Harvick remained in the lead on the lap 48 restart. Harvick would pull away on the restart and he would have a big lead over the field. However, by lap 66 Dale Earnhardt Jr began to chase down Harvick and chopped his lead to just four car lengths.
Harvick's lead would stay consistent and Earnhardt began to lose the second position to Jimmie Johnson who made the move on lap 73. By lap 79 Johnson had chased down Harvick and was on the inside of Harvick on lap 79 and led that lap. Harvick would battle back and regain the lead on Johnson. Green flag pit stops would begin on lap 83 and Jimmie Johnson would lose a lot of ground on lap 87 when the races' third caution flew for debris from a tire. Johnson had come on the apron of the racetrack and was ready to pit when the caution came out. Pit road was closed when Johnson came down and the team did not stop and the team lost several positions and then after the caution pit stops he would restart in the 17th position for the lap 92 restart.
Dale Earnhardt Jr and Matt Kenseth led the field to the green and Kenseth would pass Earnhardt and get to the lead. By lap 100 Kenseth's lead was two seconds. Jimmie Johnson began to show how strong his car was as he had already moved to the 10th position and was moving up to the front fast. By lap 110 Johnson was up to the sixth position. One lap later Joe Nemechek and Landon Cassill would both have engine issues, leaving debris and oil on the track that caused the races' fourth caution flag. Cassill finished 33rd while Nemechek ended up 41st.
The leaders would pit under the caution and again Dale Earnhardt Jr's team got him out of pit road first. On the lap 117 restart he and Matt Kenseth led the field to the green. On that same lap, Dave Blaney spun in Tommy Baldwin's #7 Chevrolet but wouldn't hit anything, although the spin brought out the races' fifth caution flag. Blaney finished 25th.
The race would restart on lap 121 with Earnhardt on the high side and Joey Logano now in second. Logano would pass Earnhardt and get the lead. Logano would stretch his lead to one second on lap 131 but that lead would be lost on lap 137 when Justin Allgaier crashed coming off turn two causing the races' sixth caution flag. Allgaier was making his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and lost control of his #51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet and collected Ryan Newman in the process. Allgaier was done for the day and finished 39th. Newman would later continue and finish 35th.
On the lap 146 restart Harvick passed Logano for the lead and one lap later Travis Kvapil spun off turn two causing the races' seventh caution flag. Kvapil would continue and finish 26th.
On lap 150 the race would restart with Harvick in front and Logano in second. By lap 152 Harvick was pulling away from the field. Harvick's lead was huge until the bushes on the outside of turn one caught fire and the smoke from that fire came into the racetrack and created a bunch of smoke causing the races' eighth caution.
Under that caution Harvick and his team would pit and take four tires putting Logano on the front row for the lap 160 restart. Logano would pull away from the field and his car was really strong during the run. On lap 164 Ricky Stenhouse Jr banged his Ford off the wall. He would continue and finish 30th. Logano's lead was one second over Juan Pablo Montoya by lap 168. He was still leading when David Ragan crashed on lap 169 causing the races' ninth caution flag. Ragan blew a right front tire and smacked the wall and had heavy damage to the right side of his car. He finished 36th.
The leaders would pit with Paul Menard being the first car off pit road. Four cars stayed on the track for the lap 174 restart with Brad Keselowki and Denny Hamlin on the front row. Brad Keselowski would pull away and lead but on lap 177 debris from Casey Mears' car caused the races' 10th caution flag of the day.
On the lap 184 restart it was Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin on the front row. Keselowski was leading when the 11th caution of the day flew when Kyle Busch spun on the backstretch. Busch didn't hit anything, but Mark Martin would trying to avoid Busch's car. Both drivers would continue. Martin would finish 22nd. The race would restart on lap 191 with Keselowski and Kasey Kahne on the front row. On lap 195 the races' 12th caution flag would fly when Marcos Ambrose spun.
The race would restart on lap 200 with Keselowski and Kevin Harvick on the front row. On that restart Kyle Busch ran into trouble when Carl Edwards got loose and made contact with Busch's Toyota. Busch slammed the outside wall and collected Brian Vickers and brought out the races' 13th caution flag. Busch finished 34th.
The race would restart on lap 203 with Keselowski and Harvick on the front row. Keselowski would pull away and lead until a round of green flag pit stops began on lap 218. On lap 223 Brad Keselowski would pit from the lead. His Ford would run out of gas during his pit stop and his team would have to push him off pit road. Keselowski would lose several seconds on pit road and the team would fall to 28th after the stop and they would lose a lap. On lap 224 the races' 14th caution would fly when debris was found on the backstretch.
The leaders would pit and several different strategies would come into play and Jeff Burton would lead coming off pit road after taking no tires. The race would restart on lap 222 with and Kevin Harvick would pass Jeff Burton on the restart and zoom to the lead. Harvick's lead was one second over Jeff Gordon when the races' 15th and final caution would fly on lap 243 when Brian Vickers got loose and slammed the wall hard off turn two. He finished 32nd.
The race would restart on lap 248 with Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon on the front row. Harvick would pull away from Gordon and Gordon would lose second to Kurt Busch. By lap 257 Harvick's lead was over two seconds over Kurt Busch. Harvick would continue to pull away and win his 22nd career Sprint Cup Series race.
Jimmie Johnson was fifth but slowed with a lap and a half left but was able to nurse his car home and only lose one spot to finish sixth.
Other notables in the field included Matt Kenseth in 11th, Greg Biffle in 13th, Clint Bowyer in 14th and Kasey Kahne in 15th. Brad Keselowski finished 17th and Martin Truex Jr finished 19th.
Matt Kenseth still leads the points but it's only a three point lead over Jimmie Johnson. Third in the standings is Kevin Harvick who is 25 points behind and Jeff Gordon is fourth in the standings 32 points behind. Fifth in the standings is Kyle Busch 35 points back. Greg Biffle is 44 points back in sixth, Kurt Busch is seventh in the standings 47 points behind and Dale Earnhardt Jr is eighth in the standings 54 points behind. Fifty-five points behind in ninth is Clint Bowyer and tenth in the standings is Joey Logano who is 59 points back. Eleventh in the standings is Carl Edwards 60 points behind. Ryan Newman is 12th in the standings 73 points behind and Kasey Kahne is 13th 83 points behind.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 12th.
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