BROOKLYN, Mich – Kevin Harvick’s Sunoco fuel in his No. 4 Ford was better than the rest. See, all the leaders hit pit road during the final caution of the race around 50 to go in Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at the Michigan International Speedway. While a chunk of those drivers ran out of fuel in the closing laps, others were in fuel save mode – not Harvick though.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was told he was two laps to the good and he used that to his advantage. He went from seventh on the final restart to the lead with 18 laps-to-go and never looked back en route to his second straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in the August return trip to the Irish Hills and his second win in the last four weeks on the season too.
Kevin Harvick leads a group of cars off Turn 4 at the Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon
He ends a string of nine straight Cup races with a different winner too.
Harvick, led 22 laps overall on Sunday including the final 18 in earning his 47th win of his career and gave Ford their fourth straight win in Michigan. It was also Harvick’s third win of his career on the 2-mile track too, all coming in the August race.
Since 2013, Harvick has scored two wins and six runner-up finishes including three top two finishes in his last four MIS starts. In this August race alone, Harvick has five top two finishes in his last seven tries including eight top 10 results in the last 10 years.
Denny Hamlin finished runner-up in his No. 11 Toyota to score just his third top five finish at Michigan since his June 2011 win. He now has five consecutive top five finishes on the season including his last four being in the top three. Overall, Hamlin has six top five finishes in the last eight weeks of the season.
Kyle Larson made up for an early race speeding penalty on pit road to bring his No. 42 Chevrolet home third. It was his 10th top 10 finish of the season, six of which coming in the last eight weeks. He heads to Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway next week with four top eight finishes in his last five starts on the season and a 71 point advantage over the cutoff spot for the playoffs. He gained 25 points on the day despite scoring zero stage points.
Martin Truex Jr. led 43 laps in Sunday’s race and despite coming from the back at the start for his No. 19 Toyota failing inspection two times, still finished a remarkable fourth. He was third in the spring race and has four top six finishes in his last six MIS starts. It was also his fourth consecutive top six finishes on the year as well. Truex, went with strategy at the end of both stages in taking fuel only on his stops. It paid off in the first stage as he received a playoff point for earning the stage win. It almost worked in Stage 2 but a caution for Brad Keselowski spinning in Turn 4 with five laps-to-go in the second stage cost him a sweep. Everyone behind him had tires as he fell to second on the one lap shootout.
Daniel Suarez had a great day in making up 17 points in the standings by rounding out the top five in his No. 41 Ford. See, the guys he was chasing in the standings all had bad days. Jimmie Johnson got into the Turn 2 wall on Lap 15 while he was trying to pass Clint Bowyer. He had damage and had to pit as a result of that and fall a couple of laps down. Then, a few laps later, he developed another flat tire resulting in a second unscheduled pit stop. He’d ride at least five laps down the rest of the way and finish a disappointing 34th.
Clint Bowyer had a decent day going until being caught up in a crash on Lap 136 in Turn 3. He’d finish 37th.
Suarez, entered the day 18th in the standings, 23 points out, and now leaves 17th and just six points out of the final playoff spot. Sunday was his first top five finish since the June Michigan race, a day he finished fourth in.
Consumers Energy 400 Results
19 Truex Jr.
47 Preece R
36 Tifft R -1
8 Hemric R -1
43 Wallace Jr. -1
17 Stenhouse Jr. -1
15 Chastain -2
00 Cassill -4
27 Houff -4
52 Theriault -6
10 Almirola -7
48 Johnson -8
77 Smithley -8
51 Ware -9
14 Bowyer OUT