Kevin Harvick is the only driver to stave off elimination in the Chase since the format change in 2014. Harvick won the 35th race of his career, his fourth of the season and his second at Kansas Sunday. At a track typically known for fuel mileage strategy and long green flag runs, there was a great deal of racing and excitement. Here’s how it all went down Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
With his first pole of the season and his third at Kansas, Matt Kenseth led the field to the green. Kyle Busch started second on the inside followed by Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., and Alex Bowman. By the first turn, Kenseth had a clear lead with Busch dropping in behind, Edwards fell into third Truex was fourth, Bowman fifth.
Edwards took second just after the start of lap 3, Denny Hamlin took fifth from Bowman. Kurt Busch who was sent to the rear of the field prior to the start after a practice crash on Saturday had moved up to 31st.
Kevin Harvick grabbed fifth on lap 9. The lead up front was just over a second.
Kenseth was catching the back of the field by lap 16, Truex had fallen to fourth behind Harvick.
Truex and Joey Logano were contesting fifth on lap 19. Harvick went to third on lap 21. Kyle Busch was fourth, Logano fifth.
Logano grabbed fourth from Busch on lap 24. Up front, Edwards was slowly gaining on leader Kenseth.
The first caution came out on lap 27 for debris on the backstretch. There were 34 cars on the lead lap. The leaders all pitted. Kenseth was out first followed by Edwards, Kyle Busch, Logano and Hamlin. Harvick lost five spots during his stops, restarting eighth when the right rear changer lost a second with a air gun set wrong.
The green came out on lap 31, Edwards and Kenseth were side by side in turn one, with Kenseth retaking the lead out of turn 2; Edwards held onto second, Busch third, Truex fourth, Logano fifth. Truex was looking for third a lap later; Harvick got fifth from Logano behind.
Hamlin was reporting an issue and began to slow on lap 35.
The second caution came out on lap 36 when Aric Almirola spun exiting turn 4 after contact with Brian Scott. David Ragan was also involved. Hamlin in 19th pitted. The leaders all stayed out. Hamlin’s team reported splitter damage to the front of the car. He pitted three times as the crew made repairs. He restarted 35th.
Green came back out on lap 41; Kenseth led on the outside into turn 1, Truex charged into second, Edwards took over third, Harvick close behind in fourth, Logano was fifth. Harvick took third on lap 44, just as the third caution came out for Jamie McMurray who scrapped the wall between turns 3 and 4. He had made contact with Bowman exiting turn 2 and lost a tire. Bowman also had a flat tire. The lead group stayed out. Hamlin reported that his car felt fine.
Green came back out on lap 48; Kenseth has a clear lead by the exit of turn 2, Truex was second, Harvick third. Harvick took second on lap 49, Edwards was fourth behind Truex, Edwards was fourth, Logano fifth. Kurt Busch had moved to 18th, Hamlin had rebounded to 20th.
From his 21st starting spot, Jimmie Johnson took fifth from Logano on lap 58. Logano had debris on his grill and was looking to get behind another car to clean it off. He lost two spots until he was able to get behind Tony Stewart and clear his grill.
By lap 65, the lead was 1.2 seconds. It was just over 2 seconds by lap 73.
There were 28 cars on the lead lap by lap 80 and Kenseth’s lead was just over 3 seconds as green flag stops neared. Kyle Larson pitted from just outside the top 10 on lap 83. Truex retook second on lap 84. Harvick was trying to hold off Edwards.
Kyle Busch pitted on lap 86. Edwards, Chase Elliott and several others followed. Kenseth pitted a lap later, along with Truex and Harvick. Logano pitted on lap 88. During the cycle, Logano, Hamlin and Keselowski each led a lap. Bowman tagged the wall exiting turn 2 but was able to continue and here was no caution. Johnson and Elliott got together on the apron after leaving pit road.
Kenseth was back in the lead when the stops cycled through by lap 95. The lead for Kenseth was nearly 6 seconds over Edwards, Harvick, Johnson, and Truex. The crew of Truex however reported that they didn’t get enough fuel, and would only have enough for 24 laps.
Harvick took second on lap 102. Johnson followed two laps later taking third. There were 20 cars on the lead lap.
Johnson was looking for second on lap 114; he was side by side with Harvick, Edwards loomed close behind. Truex pitted needing fuel, just at caution four came out on lap 116 for Josh Wise hitting the wall. Truex lost a lap, and dropped into 22nd.
The leaders all pitted. Kenseth came out first followed by Harvick, Edwards, Elliott, and Johnson.
The crew of Truex reported that the first can of fuel went in fine, the second one didn’t. After measurements, the crew reported they were 3 gallons short. Truex took a wave around and got back on the lead lap.
Green came out on lap 121. Kenseth and Harvick were side by side with Kenseth getting the lead by the end of the lap. Harvick held second, Elliott third, Edwards fourth, Logano fifth.
Logano took fourth on lap 124. Johnson was looking for fifth from Edwards a lap later. Hamlin had recovered to seventh. Up front Harvick was looking for the lead on lap 126. Harvick had the top spot as they started lap 127.
At the halfway point, 133 laps, with 26 cars on the lead lap, the top 10: Harvick, Kenseth, Elliott, Edwards, Logano, Johnson, Hamlin, Austin Dillon, and Kyle Busch.
Elliott went to second on lap 136.
Kenseth went to fourth on lap 140 as he reported his car was freeing up, Edwards took over third. Logano had moved to fifth; he took fourth on lap 143, Johnson followed and Kenseth was sixth.
Johnson was looking for fourth and took it from Logano on lap 144. Up front, Elliott was closing the gap on Harvick.
Hamlin took sixth on lap 150.
Another round of green flag stops started deep in the field on lap 151.
The lead was under a half a second by lap 157. Kenseth had fallen to 9th.
Truex pitted on lap 164. On track Harvick and Elliott was battling for the lead; Edwards in third was catching up. The top three were nose to tail on lap 168. Elliott took the lead on the high side on lap 169, Edwards followed into second.
Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Johnson pitted on lap 173; Elliott and Harvick pitted a lap later, Harvick had a slow stop with issues on the right front. Edwards pitted on lap 175.
Elliott retook the lead but had a left rear tire go down and had to re-pit on lap 176. On track Kyle Larson exiting turn 2 and caution five came out. Elliott reported that he still had issues, that the back of his car was swaying. He was 27th one lap down.
On track, Edwards had the lead, followed by Johnson, Logano, Bowman, and Harvick. When pit road opened, Bowman was the only driver among the top five to pit. That moved Harvick to fourth, Hamlin fifth. Elliott pitted again during the caution.
Green came out on lap 184. Edwards took the lead, behind his was three wide for second. Harvick soon had second, Logano third, Johnson fourth, Truex fifth. on the restart, Elliott brushed the wall but kept going,
On lap 190, Brad Keselowski crashed hard exiting turn 4 after contact with Hamlin. Keselowski’s car shot to the infield destroying the nose of the car and caution six came out. The top five were, Edwards, Harvick, Logano, Johnson and Truex. Keselowski took the remains of his Ford to the garage. Keselowski later took blame for the incident saying he thought he had room to clear the front of Hamlin.
Cars from fifth on back pitted led by Truex.
The restart came on lap 199, Ryan Blaney had stayed out and took over fifth. Edwards had the lead exiting turn 2, Harvick fell into second, Johnson third. AJ Allmendinger took fourth from Logano. On the restart, Elliott again brushed the wall exiting turn 4, but continued. Logano retook fourth on lap 206. Kurt Busch had worked his way to 10th by lap 211. With damage to the front of his car, Hamlin was struggling running 19th.
Kyle Busch took fifth on lap 218. Keselowski returned from the garage on lap 219. The lead up front was 1.5 seconds.
Caution seven came out on lap 221 for oil on track most likely from the heavily damaged car of Keselowski. Keselowski rolled his smoking car back to the garage with a possible expired engine.
The leaders all pitted, for perhaps the final time. Dillon took only two tires and was out first. The rest took four led by Edwards, Harvick, Johnson, Logano and Kyle Busch. Hamlin spent extra time on pit road as the crew worked on the nose of his car. He was then penalized for an uncontrolled tire and sent to the rear of the field.
The green came out on lap 225. Edwards was able to take the lead on the low side, Harvick followed to second, Dillon took third, but soon Johnson had the spot. Up front, Edwards and Harvick dueled for position. On lap 228, Edwards, led, Harvick was close behind in second, Johnson, Logano and Bowman were the top five. Dillon had fallen to eighth.
Caution eight came out on lap 233 for Regan Smith who hit the wall in turn 3. Elliott was in the free pass position.
Having just pitted the top six stayed out. Kyle Busch from seventh led the rest of the lead lap cars in. Those pitting included Dillon. Hamlin was penalized on pit road for too many men over the wall and gave up eighth and restarting 24th.
The restart came on lap 238. Harvick was able to take the lead, Edwards fell back and soon Kyle Busch with new tires snagged second. Edwards defended and soon it was a three wide battle that included Logano. Logano fell back, Busch took second, but Edwards was soon again racing for the spot. Busch was able to get a clear second by lap 240, but Harvick had stretched his lead out to 1.5 seconds.
Elliott slowed to a near stop exiting turn 2 on lap 244 with a flat tire that had gone down entering turn 1. Green stayed out, as Elliott was able to make it to the pits. He came back out three laps down, 32nd. Up front Kyle Busch was slowly reeling in the leader Harvick.
Edwards was able to catch Busch and was again fighting for second with 18 laps to go. Busch was able to defend, but it allowed Harvick to stretch his lead out to two seconds.
Edwards again had second with 15 to go, the lead was 2.4 seconds. Logano was fourth, Johnson fifth. there were 24 cars on the lead lap.
With 10 laps to go the lead for Harvick was 2.7 seconds. With 8 to go, Kyle Busch was defending third from Logano and Johnson. Both drivers were able to get by. Dillon had fought his way back to sixth.
The lead was 2.5 seconds with five laps to go.
There were no issues for Harvick as took the checkered flag 1.5 seconds over Edwards. Logano was third, Johnson fourth and Kyle Busch fifth.
Next up is the race most feared by the Chase field, the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network with the green flag coming just after 2:00 p.m. ET.