Harvick Keeps it Rolling at All-Star Race
Points races apparently aren’t enough to satisfy Kevin Harvick’s appetite for victory lane in 2018 as the driver of the 4 car took home the $1 million dollar prize at NASCAR’s Monster Energy All-Star Race on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The story going into Saturday’s race revolved around the experimental rules package NASCAR opted to try out. The package featured: a 6 inch spoiler with ears on either side that added an additional 2 inches, a 2014 style splitter which protrudes out much farther than the current one, air ducts on either side of the nose, and a 7/8ths inch restrictor plate. The intentions behind these changes were to produce pack style racing.
Prior to the All-Star Race, those not qualified ran in the Monster Open. The race’s three stage winners: Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, and A.J. Allmendinger all transferred with their victories. Chase Elliott, for the third straight year, made the All-Star race via the fan vote.
The racing in the Open was quite good and featured lots of side-by-side action and many good battles for the lead. Hopes were high heading into the night’s main event.
The race broke down into four stages of 30-20-20-10 laps respectively, with overtime rules at play for each stage and only green flag laps counting in the final stage.
Polesitter Matt Kenseth led the field to the green but before anybody could truly get up to speed Kurt Busch backed his Monster Energy Ford into the wall on lap 2. Racing resumed on lap 6 and that was when Harvick took his first lead of the night. The cars from second on back battled furiously throughout the next 24 laps but Harvick’s lead was untouchable and he won the stage.
A bad pitstop shuffled Harvick back and handed Kyle Busch the lead. Busch and Martin Truex Jr.spent the first two laps of stage 2 swapping the lead before Busch held it for good and similar to Harvick, dominated the stage.
Brad Keselowski played the strategy game in the pits opting for just 2 tires which gave him the lead as stage 3 began. Keselowski managed to lead three laps before relinquishing the lead to Truex. The second accident of the night would see Kasey Khane slapping the frontstretch wall, bringing out another yellow. Bowman would wreck towards the end of the stage which brought out another caution.
On the restart following that, a full lap wasn’t even completed before the night’s worst carnage unfolded. Truex got a bump from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. going into turn 3 as the two were at the bottom of a four-wide battle. Truex spun up the track and collected a multitude of other cars including Keselowski and both Busch brothers.
The caution forced stage 3 to go into overtime. Harvick would slice his way past leaders Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson to win the stage. Suarez made a valiant effort on the last lap but ended up only getting to Harvick’s doorhandle at the stripe.
To no ones surprise Harvick rocketed away at the start of the final stage. He seemed to have things well in hand until Larson was spun by Joey Logano with 2 to go, forcing another overtime. On the final restart Suarez did jump ahead of Harvick but he never managed to complete the pass and Harvick powered back by quickly for the win.