Kevin Harvick survives a bump and run to win at New Hampshire

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JULY 21: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Beer/National Forest Foundation Ford, takes the checkered flag in front of Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 21, 2019 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

No one puts a bump and run on Kevin Harvick.  Harvick proved that on the final lap Sunday overcoming a last lap bump and run from Denny Hamlin to win his first race of the season scoring the victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday.

A gutsy pit call from crew chief Rodney Childers put Harvick in the lead after the races ninth and final caution on lap 264. The leaders including Hamlin pitted while Harvick was told to stay out. On older tires, Harvick was able to hold off Hamlin who had taken two tires and began to stretch his lead out in the final laps.  Hamlin however was able to reel in Harvick and was on his rear bumper as they took the white flag.  Hamlin put a bumper to the rear of Harvick, but Harvick was able to hold his line and went on to win by .210 of a second.

“I didn’t think we had the best chance to win staying out,” Harvick said. “But Rodney and those guys made a great call.”

The win for Harvick comes a year after he pulled a similar move on Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to take the lead at the same track and score his sixth win of 2018.  Sunday’s win came 21 starts after his last victory that coming in Texas last November.

“I didn’t want to see their traffic there at the end,” Harvick said.  “It really made my car tight, and he got to me.  He tried to move me out of the way down there, and I knew that was coming as close as he was.  So, I just stood on the brakes and I’m like, half throttle down the back straightaway.  I’m like, you’re not getting under me again, and he drove to the outside of me, and I waited until he got near me, and I just put a wheel on him.”

Hamlin could still smile after losing.

“I mean, yeah, I just ‑‑ I wanted to just tap him there, but I didn’t want to completely screw him,” Hamlin said. “I at least wanted to give him a fair shot there.  Down the backstretch, I kind of let off, and I’m like, all right, well, I’ll just pass him on the outside and kind of do this thing the right way, and once I had that big run, he just turned right.  But I would do the same thing.  It was a fun race, and congratulations to him and his team.  They made a great call there at the end.”

The runner up finish seemed especially satisfying especially after starting in the back of the field in a backup car after crashing practice.

“It was fun,” Hamlin said.  “…  Really happy about our performance and how we’ve been for the last few months, and Chris has done a great job with this backup car.  This is nowhere near the car that I wrecked on Friday.  shit, I don’t know.  Second sucks.”

For much of Sunday’s race Kyle Busch had the strongest car. He led a race high 118 of the 301 laps.  Busch took the lead on the first lap and won Stage 1.  A tire rub after contact during a restart sent him to the pits for repairs on lap 157. He restarted 16th.  He rallied to seventh by lap 201 but on lap 214 got loose while racing for position and smacked the Turn 2 wall.  He was never back in contention for the win and had to settle for eighth.

Erik Jones, who had also stayed out with Harvick during the final caution, overcame a pit road speeding penalty that came after he had made contact with Alex Bowman on pit road, and a near commitment cone violation late in the race to finish third. Ryan Blaney was fourth with perennial fan favorite Matt DiBenedetto finishing a strong fifth.

Martin Truex Jr. survived a crash with Clint Bowyer on lap 145 and was the third driver to stay out during the final caution. He held on to finish sixth.  Ryan Newman had engine issues reporting a lost cylinder on lap 204. The crew was able to make repairs and Newman charged back to finish seventh.

Behind Busch, Joey Logano finished ninth with polesitter Brad Keselowski rounding out the top 10. Aric Almirola won Stage 2 and finished 11th.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series returns to Pocono Raceway next Sunday for the Gander RV 400. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network with the green flag coming just after 3:00 p.m. ET.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Foxwoods Resort Casino 301

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Loudon, New Hampshire

Sunday, July 21, 2019

1. (14)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 301.

2. (23)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 301.

3. (4)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 301.

4. (5)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 301.

5. (7)  Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 301.

6. (6)  Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 301.

7. (26)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 301.

8. (2)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 301.

9. (8)  Joey Logano, Ford, 301.

10. (1)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 301.

11. (9)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 301.

12. (22)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 301.

13. (17)  Paul Menard, Ford, 301.

14. (37)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 301.

15. (25)  Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 301.

16. (18)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 301.

17. (24)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 301.

18. (3)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 301.

19. (13)  Daniel Suarez, Ford, 300.

20. (16)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 300.

21. (28)  Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 300.

22. (27)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 300.

23. (29)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 299.

24. (30)  Matt Tifft #, Ford, 299.

25. (32)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 299.

26. (31)  Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 298.

27. (33)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 294.

28. (35)  Andy Seuss, Ford, 291.

29. (12)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 290.

30. (10)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 288.

31. (34)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 287.

32. (21)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 268.

33. (15)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 264.

34. (20)  David Ragan, Ford, 261.

35. (36)  Austin Theriault, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 185.

36. (11)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Accident, 135.

37. (19)  Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, Accident, 110.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  104.062 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 3 Mins, 37 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.210 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  9 for 48 laps.

Lead Changes:  14 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   B. Keselowski 0;K. Busch 1-36;B. Keselowski 37-47;E. Jones 48-50;K. Busch 51-77;E. Jones 78;K. Busch 79-110;B. Keselowski 111;K. Harvick 112-116;K. Busch 117-139;K. Harvick 140;A. Almirola 141-152;J. Logano 153;D. Hamlin 154-266;K. Harvick 267-301.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Busch 4 times for 118 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 113 laps; Kevin Harvick 3 times for 41 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 12 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 12 laps; Erik Jones 2 times for 4 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 1 lap.

Greg Engle