Kevin Harvick survived a wild race at Bristol that took almost 24 hours to complete. After numerous rain delays pushed the race to Sunday and delayed it even further, Harvick was finally able to win his first event in 18 races, the 33rd of his career and his second at Bristol Motor Speedway. Here’s how it all went down over the course of two days at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Saturday night after a delay for a thunderstorm and nearby lightning the race got the green flag nearly an hour late. There was still a threat of rain as Carl Edwards led the field with his second Bristol pole of the year and his fourth of the season. Denny Hamlin started second with Ryan Blaney and Matt Kenseth close behind.
Edwards took the lead on the bottom, but Hamlin on the outside was able to power by and took the lead by the end of the first lap. Chase Elliott took over second from Edwards; Kyle Busch was fourth, Ryan Blaney fifth.
Kenseth was fighting with Blaney on lap 8. Blaney got the spot and was looking for forth on lap 9, as up front Elliott took the lead from Hamlin. Hamlin was soon looking to regain the spot. On lap 11 Hamlin nearly lost it, slipped up the track; Kyle Busch took over second. Blaney was fourth, Edwards fifth. Kenseth took fifth from Edwards on lap 18. Martin Truex Jr. also slipped by for sixth. Blaney had moved to third.
The leaders were starting to lap the field by lap 22.
Kyle Busch took the lead on lap 23. Blaney was close behind looking for second from Elliott.
The first caution came out, for rain, on lap 31. The cars were brought down on pit road on lap 37 and the red flag was displayed.
Drivers were called to their cars about an hour and fifteen minutes after the race was stopped and the track was dried. The engines were re-fired and the red flag was lifted after one hour and 24 minutes. After 8 laps under caution though, the skies opened up again the rain poured down and the race was stopped again at lap 48.
NASCAR finally called the race postponing it to Sunday at 1pm.
When the appointed time came on Sunday the rains continued. The race was again delayed until 4:30 p.m. ET when the engines were finally re-fired and the race was put back under yellow. There were several pace laps as pit road was dried and the green flew on lap 59 with Kyle Busch leading the field.
Busch exploded to the lead, Hamlin took second from Elliott as did Truex who took over third. Kyle Larson and Jeff Gordon fought side by side for fifth with Blaney close behind. Larson had the spot by lap 64, Blaney was ahead of Gordon.
Blaney took fourth from Elliott on lap 67; he took second three laps later. Truex followed, as did Larson and soon Hamlin was sixth behind Elliott. Busch’s lead was nearing 2.5 seconds up front. By lap 80 Busch was starting to lap the field.
Larson and Truex were dueling for third by lap 83, Larson had the spot by lap 85.
NASCAR had called for a competition caution around lap 85, and it flew on lap 86. The leaders all pitted. Kyle Busch was out first, Ryan Newman took only two tires and was out second followed by Hamlin, Larson and Truex. Larson was penalized for speeding and sent to the rear of the field. Blaney had a slow stop and came out 11th. Brian Scott and Greg Biffle stayed out.
The green came back out on lap 92. Scott held the lead but Newman was soon looking for the lead. Truex and Kyle Busch were side by side behind. Newman had the lead by lap 95, Scott was second, Busch third, Truex fourth. Busch grabbed second on lap 97, Gordon fought his way up and was third; Hamlin was fourth, Edwards fifth.
Kyle Busch took the lead from Newman on lap 103. Gordon took second on lap 106. Edwards took fourth on lap 111, he went to third a few laps later. Edwards was looking for second by lap 130. Truex lurked close behind. Edwards took second on lap 135. Truex was soon looking for the spot from Gordon. Elliott held station in fifth. The lead up front for Busch was nearing 3.5 seconds.
Caution flew on lap 156 after Regan Smith got into the wall and left debris on the track. The leaders all pitted. Edwards was first off pit road, followed by Kyle Busch, Truex, Gordon and Kurt Busch.
Edwards restarted on the outside line when the green came back out on lap 165. Edwards went to the lead as Busch and Gordon were side by side with Kyle Busch, with Gordon getting second by the end of the lap. Gordon nearly lost it in turn 4 on lap 168 and Kyle Busch shot by as Gordon fell back. He settled into 16th. Hamlin took over third; Kevin Harvick who had restarted the race outside the top 15, was fourth, Kurt Busch fifth.
By lap 188, Kyle Busch and Edwards were side-by-side fighting for the lead. Busch had the lead on lap 190. Harvick took third on lap 195. Up front, Kyle Busch was extending his lead. Kyle Larson overcame his speeding penalty and was 8th by lap 215.
In heavy traffic Edwards was looking for the lead on lap 225; Harvick lurked close behind. Harvick and Edwards were contesting second by lap 229, Harvick had second by lap 230. Edwards stayed close though wanting to retake the spot. Truex was fourth, Larson fifth. Edwards retook second on lap 237 and was soon trying to retake the lead in heavy traffic.
In his last Bristol race, Tony Stewart had to pit with a lose tire on lap 235 and lost four laps.
The fourth caution came out on lap 255 for debris after Newman hit the wall. Stewart had just pitted again and was soon heading to the garage. The leaders all pitted. Kyle Busch was first off pit road followed by Edwards, Larson, Harvick and Truex.
Green came out on lap 263; Busch took the lead on top as Harvick followed him into second; Hamlin grabbed third, Kurt Busch took fourth, Edwards fifth. Larson fell back to seventh.
Harvick grabbed the lead from Busch on lap 286. Hamlin was third followed by Truex and Kurt Busch. Truex moved to third on lap 290. Busch stayed close as Harvick was in lapped traffic. Truex got third on lap 298.
Caution five came out on lap 307 when Larson in fourth nearly spun without after contract with Kurt Busch off of turn 4. The leaders all pitted. Kyle Busch won the race off pit road, Harvick was second, Truex third, followed by Paul Menard who took only two tires, Hamlin and Joey Logano. Hamlin was penalized for speeding, his eighth of the season. Kurt Busch moved up into fifth.
The green came out on lap 316. Busch was on the outside, Harvick on the inside; Busch shot to the lead as Harvick held off Menard. Kurt Busch had third by lap 318, followed by Truex and Brad Keselowski.
Hamlin was outside the top 20 reporting a loose wheel on lap 329. He pitted on lap 332 under green. He rejoined the field 25th two laps down.
Kyle Busch reported, “Something is broke” on lap 348, slowed and Harvick regained the lead. Busch reported that the rear end of his car was going bad. On lap 358, Busch spun when that “something” finally let loose; Justin Allgaier was unable to avoid the car of Busch, hit it, shot up the track and made contract with Truex; Larson just behind also hit Truex and suffered damage. Caution six flew.
The leaders all pitted. Logano was first off pit road, followed by Harvick, Keselowski and Edwards.
Green came out on lap 373; Logano and Kurt Busch dueled for the lead. As the field entered the backstretch, Kurt Busch spun collecting Brad Keselowski, Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Elliott, Brian Scott and Larson. Busch, Keselowski, Blaney, Gordon, Elliott and Larson all had varying degrees of damage as caution seven waved. In all 10 cars were involved. Busch, Blaney, Kenseth and Keselowski headed to the garage.
Logano led on the outside, Harvick in second when the green came back out on lap 390. Jimmie Johnson, who had fought his way forward all day took second. Harvick however would have none of it and retook the spot on lap 393; Austin Dillon was soon looking for third from Johnson. Chris Buescher was fifth.
Trevor Bayne was looking for fifth by lap 399.
Harvick looked much faster than Logano and by lap 402 was looking for the lead. The two staged a furious battle with Harvick getting the lead on lap 404. Buescher moved to fourth behind. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who had been penalized for speeding earlier took fifth on lap 408.
Clint Bowyer hit the wall in turn 4 on lap 415 and caution eight flew. The leaders pitted. With a two tire stop, and after coming back from two laps down, Hamlin won the race off pit road, Harvick was second followed by Logano, Johnson, and Dillon. Logano came back in with possible loose lug nuts.
Green came back out on lap 424; Hamlin restarted on the outside Harvick on the inside. Hamlin went to he lead, Harvick followed, Johnson settled into third, Dillon was fourth, Jamie McMurray was fifth.
Harvick reeled in Hamlin and retook the lead on lap 430. The ninth caution came out for light rain on lap 433. The rain picked up and cars were brought to pit road and the race was red flagged with 54 laps to go. The top ten at the time: Harvick, Hamlin, Johnson, Dillon ,McMurray, Stenhouse, Edwards, Buescher, Gordon ,and AJ Allmendinger.
After a red flag of 6 minutes and 57 seconds, the shower passed, the track was dry and the field was put under caution again.
The green flew on lap 449, 51 laps to go. Harvick took the lead as Dillon secured second, Hamlin was third. Stenhouse was looking for third on the outside. Dillon was soon looking for the lead and stayed close to Harvick; Stenhouse took third on lap 454. Buescher was fifth.
By lap 458 Harvick was stretching out his lead, as Stenhouse took second; Hamlin followed for third.
With 33 laps to go , the lead was up to 1.2 seconds. Three laps later with a clear track in front, Harvick’s lead was just over 2 seconds. With 10 laps to go, the lead was just under 2 seconds as Harvick was again in lapped traffic. Second place Stenhouse was fighting the same traffic and wasn’t able to gain ground.
The only race was for fourth between Buescher and Dillon with five laps to go. The gap was still near 2 seconds as Harvick took the white flag, and that’s where it stayed as Harvick scored his first victory in 18 races and the first at Bristol for Stewart-Haas Racing. Stenhouse was second, Hamlin third, Dillon held on for fourth and Buescher finished fifth. Edwards was sixth followed by Johnson, McMurray, Allmendinger and Logano rounding out the top ten. The full results can be found here.
Harvick asked his boss Tony Stewart to join him and in his last race at Bristol Stewart did burnouts on the frontstretch with Harvick.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads to Michigan International Speedway next Sunday for the Pure Michigan 400. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network at 2:00 p.m. ET.