Harvick records milestone win for Ford at Dover, clinches regular-season championship

The moment Kevin Harvick, who started 17th, stormed to the lead in the the closing laps of the first stage, it was lights out for the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford compared to the rest of the competition. From there, Harvick went on to sweep both stages and storm to a dominating win in the second Drydene 311 event at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, August 23.

The victory was Harvick’s seventh of the season, third at Dover and the 56th of his NASCAR Cup Series career. In addition, Harvick notched the 700th Cup career win for Ford and he clinched his first regular-season championship after maintaining the lead in the regular-season standings by 134 points over Denny Hamlin.

The starting lineup was based on the results from Saturday’s Cup event, where only the top-20 finishers were inverted for Sunday’s race. With that, Matt DiBenedetto started on pole position and was joined on the front row by Ryan Newman.

Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman started at the rear of the field after they elected to race in backup cars on Sunday along with Garrett Smithley due to an engine change.

When the green flag waved, DiBenedetto took off with the lead and he led the first lap while Aric Almirola worked his way to second place after passing Newman. Behind, Austin Dillon was in fourth while Chris Buescher moved up to fifth.

Shortly after, Ryan Blaney moved up into the top five as he was running in fourth place behind Newman and in front of Austin Dillon, teammate Tyler Reddick and Buescher. 

While the competitors around the track continued to battle early and hard for positions, the caution flew around the fifth lap when contact from Joey Logano entering Turn 4 got Ricky Stenhouse Jr. loose as Stenhouse spun and made contact with the inside wall backwards. In the ensuing chaos, Chase Elliott sustained damage to the front nose of his No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE after running into the rear bumper of Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry while Garrett Smithley and Joey Gase spun entering Turn 4 as Gase made hard contact with the outside wall.

Following the wreck, Elliott and Gase retired while Kyle Busch, Stenhouse and Smithley continued. Under caution, Erik Jones made a pit stop after he sustained minimal damage to his No. 20 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota Camry.

When the race restarted under green on Lap 11, Almirola and his No. 10 Smithfield Hometown Original Ford Mustang gained a strong start on the inside lane to take over the lead from DiBenedetto and the Wood Brothers Racing’s No. 21 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang. Behind, Blaney moved up to second place while DiBenedetto settled in third place ahead of Newman. Reddick moved up to fifth place in front of teammate Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski. 

Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin and his No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry were in 12th place in front of William Byron while Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE were in 15th in front of Kevin Harvick. Martin Truex Jr. was in 17th ahead of Bubba Wallace and Matt Kenseth. Kurt Busch was back in 22nd while Alex Bowman was in 24th. Jones was in 27th while Kyle Busch was back in 29th. 

Following the first 20 laps, Almirola was leading by a second over Blaney followed by DiBenedetto, Reddick and Austin Dillon. Behind Logano moved up to eighth place after passing Newman while rookie Cole Custer was scored in seventh behind Keselowski. Buescher, on the other hand, had fallen back to 10th in front of Clint Bowyer.

Six laps later, on Lap 26, the battling behind the leaders continued to ensue as Hamlin moved into the top 10 after passing Newman. Just behind him, Harvick moved up to 11th while Truex was in 13th ahead of Buescher. Shortly after, Harvick passed Hamlin for 10th place while Truex moved up to 12th. Meanwhile, Byron was in 13th place and running two spots ahead of teammate and rival for the final Playoff spot, Johnson. Way behind, Kyle Busch was in 24th while Kurt Busch was in 25th.

Just past the Lap 30 mark, the caution returned due to debris spotted on the track. Under caution, most of the leaders led by Almirola, DiBenedetto and Keselowski pitted while others led by Blaney, Byron and Kurt Busch remained on track.

When the race restarted on Lap 39, Blaney took off with the lead following a strong start on the outside lane while Byron moved up to the runner-up spot. By the following lap, DiBenedetto, the first one on fresh tires, made his way up to third place followed by Keselowski while Kurt Busch fell back to fifth place. Behind, Austin Dillon was in sixth place in front of Johnson, Almirola, Logano and Custer. Harvick was up in 11th and primed to move back into the top 10 while Bowyer, Hamlin and Truex were in 13th, 14th and 15th.

By Lap 50, Blaney and his No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang were leading by more than a second over Byron and his No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. DiBenedetto, Keselowski and Kurt Busch continued to run inside the top five while Almirola passed Johnson to move into seventh place. Harvick and Logano were in ninth and 10th while Bowyer, Hamlin and Truex continued to run within the top 15. Wallace was in 17th in between Alex Bowman and Jones while Buescher and Kenseth were in the top 20. Newman was back in 22nd ahead of Daniel Suarez while Kyle Busch was back in 25th in between Ty Dillon and rookie Christopher Bell.

Six laps later, Harvick continued his march to the front as he passed Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch to move up to sixth while Johnson continued to retain ninth place ahead of Logano. Towards the front, Keselowski muscled his way to third place and DiBenedetto and Almirola continued to battle while Harvick joined the party.

With all the battling around the track continuing to take place, Blaney was still leading by more than a second over Byron. By Lap 62, however, Harvick moved up to third place after passing Keselowski. Four laps later, Harvick and his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang moved into second place after passing Byron as he started to reel in to race leader Blaney for the first stage win with a fast car.

On the penultimate lap of the stage, Harvick took the lead from Blaney following a pass on the outside lane and he was gone from there as he claimed the first stage on Lap 70 and his sixth stage victory of the season. Blaney settled in second behind Harvick while Byron, Almirola, and Keselowski were scored in the top five followed by Logano, DiBenedetto. Johnson, Kurt Busch and Austin Dillon.

Under the stage break, the leaders pitted and Harvick retained the lead following a stellar stop from the No. 4 pit crew. Blaney exited second ahead of Byron, Logano and Keselowski. Following the pit stops, however, Almirola was sent to the rear of the field due to speeding on pit road.

Shortly after, the red flag was displayed and the race was halted for more than 12 minutes due to safety workers repairing the concrete/pavement in between Turns 3 and 4.

Once the engines re-fired, the cars returned under cautious pace and the racing under green resumed on Lap 78, Harvick rocketed away with the lead on the outside lane followed by Blaney and Logano while Byron fell back to fourth. Behind, Hamlin and Keselowski battled for fifth place while Truex, Johnson and DiBenedetto were battling in the top 10 ahead of Bowyer and his No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang.

More than 10 laps later on Lap 90, Harvick was still leading by more than a second over Blaney and more than two seconds over Logano and Byron with Hamlin trailing by more than four seconds and Keselowski by more than five seconds. With Byron in fourth, teammate Johnson was in eighth ahead of DiBenedetto, Bowyer and Kurt Busch. Rookies Custer and Reddick were in 12th and 14th while Jones was in 15th ahead of Wallace, Kenseth and Kyle Busch. Almirola was back in 21st ahead of Austin Dillon and Bell while Newman was in 25th.

Just shy of the Lap 100 mark, the caution returned due to a spin involving Corey LaJoie in Turn 2 following contact with Ty Dillon. Under caution, the leaders pitted and Logano emerged with the lead after exiting first ahead of Harvick and Blaney while Truex and Hamlin exited inside the top five ahead of Byron. Following the pits stops, however, Johnson was sent to the rear of the field due to speeding on pit road. 

When the race restarted on Lap 106, Logano and Harvick battled dead even through Turns 1 and 2 before Logano and his No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang prevailed by clearing Harvick and the field. Blaney, Hamlin and Truex continued running in a single-file lane in the top five followed by Byron, Keselowski, Bell, Kurt Busch and DiBenedetto. Soon after, Bell and DiBenedetto battled intensely for ninth place with Custer and Bowyer trailing behind.

At the front, Harvick started to intimidate Logano for the lead. After spending the previous few laps trying to gain a run and navigate his way around Logano, Harvick prevailed and reassumed the lead on Lap 115. Meanwhile, Byron was in sixth while Johnson was up to 23rd.

By Lap 130, with the field settling into single-file racing, Harvick was still leading by more than a second over Logano with Blaney trailing by less than three seconds. Hamlin and Truex were still in the top five followed by Byron. Keselowski, Kurt Busch, DiBenedetto and Bowyer continued racing in the top 10 while Almirola was in 13th in between Bowman and Reddick. Austin Dillon was in 15th ahead of Jones, Johnson, Kenseth, Buescher and Kyle Busch. Wallace was back in 23rd ahead of Newman and Michael McDowell.

Ten laps later and on Lap 140, Harvick was at the front of the field by more than two seconds over Logano with Blaney and Hamlin trailing by less than five seconds. 

Another twenty five laps later and past the halfway mark, Harvick extended his advantage to more than seven seconds over Penske teammates Logano and Blaney. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Hamlin and Truex were in fourth and fifth as both continued to reel in the Penske teammates. Behind, Byron was in fifth place while teammate Bowman, racing in a backup car, was in sixth. Behind, Johnson was up in 12th in between Stewart-Haas Racing’s Bowyer and Almirola while Kurt Busch was in 10th behind Keselowski and Custer. DiBenedetto was in 15th ahead of Buescher and Reddick while Kyle Busch was in 19th. Behind, competitors like Jones, Newman, Wallace, McDowell, Bell, Ryan Preece, LaJoie, Suarez and Ty Dillon were pinned a lap behind the leaders.

By Lap 180 and with the laps in the second stage winding down, Harvick continued to extend his advantage as he was leading by more than eight seconds over Logano. Behind, Hamlin and Truex made a three-wide move on Blaney as Hamlin moved up to third place in front of Truex while Blaney was back in fifth place in front of Byron.

With no challengers mounting close behind his fast car, Harvick streaked across the start/finish line to claim the second stage on Lap 185 for his seventh stage victory of the season. By then, he clinched the regular-season championship and will earn an extra 15 points towards the 2020 Cup Playoffs in September. Logano settled behind Harvick followed by Hamlin, Truex and Blaney. Byron, Bowman, Custer, Johnson and Keselowski were scored in the top 10.

Under the stage break, the leaders pitted and Harvick retained the lead followed by Logano, Hamlin, Truex, Byron and Blaney. Prior to the start of the final stage, Hamlin opted to restart beneath Harvick on the front row while Logano restarted in the second row and on the outside lane next to Truex’s No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry.

With approximately 190 laps remaining, the final stage commenced as Harvick rocketed away with the lead. Logano moved up to second place ahead of Hamlin and Truex while Byron, Bowman and Blaney battled for more. Johnson was in 10th place ahead of Kurt Busch while Almirola worked his way back to 12th in front of teammate Bowyer. DiBenedetto was back in 15th while Kyle Busch was in 18th ahead of Reddick. Jones, meanwhile, was in 27th and pinned a lap behind the leaders.

At the Lap 200 mark and with 111 laps remaining, Harvick was leading by more than a second over Logano with Hamlin trailing by more than two seconds and Truex and Byron trailing by less than four seconds.

With 100 laps remaining, Harvick’s advantage extended to more than two seconds over Logano while Hamlin and Truex were stabilized in third and fourth. Byron was in fifth, four spots ahead of teammate Johnson with Almirola trailing Johnson. Almirola and Bowyer were in 10th and 11th followed by Kurt Busch. DiBenedetto was still in 15th while Kyle Busch made his way up to 16th.

Four laps later, the caution returned when rookie Quin Houff got loose and spun in Turn 1 from the outside lane and down to the banking. Under caution, the leaders pitted and Harvick retained the lead after exiting pit road first followed by Logano, Hamlin, Truex, Bowman and Byron.

With 90 laps remaining, the race restarted under green as Harvick, once again, jumped ahead with the advantage. While Hamlin and Logano pursued Harvick for the lead, Truex retained fourth place ahead of Bowman, Byron and Blaney while Bowyer passed teammate Custer for eighth place. Behind, Johnson was back in 13th behind Keselowski and ahead of Kyle Busch while Kurt Busch and DiBenedetto were back in 17th and 18th.

With less than 85 laps remaining, Hamlin dropped off the pace and made an unscheduled pit stop to address a loose wheel as his hopes of winning two Dover races in one weekend evaporated.

At the front, Harvick continued to lead by two seconds over Logano while Truex trailed by more than three seconds. Hamlin’s misfortune moved Hendrick Motorsports’ teammates Bowman and Byron back into the top five while Stewart-Haas Racing’s Bowyer and Almirola battled for seventh place. Johnson moved back into 10th place behind Custer while Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch moved up to 13th and 15th.

Less than 60 laps remaining, Harvick’s advantage grew to more than three seconds over Logano while Truex trailed the leaders by less than five seconds. Behind Bowman and Byron, Almirola was up in sixth place in front of Blaney while Johnson was in ninth in between teammates Bowyer and Custer. Not long after, Bowyer and Johnson passed Blaney and then, Johnson passed Bowyer to move into seventh place.

With 50 laps remaining and with dark clouds starting to overshadow the track, Harvick was leading by more than four seconds over Logano while Truex trailed by five seconds. Byron was in fifth place while Johnson continued his march towards the front in seventh place. By then, Blaney had fallen back to 11th place while Custer and Austin Dillon occupied the final spots in the top 10.

With less than 40 laps remaining, Harvick’s advantage grew to more than five seconds over Logano as he was also navigating his way through lapped traffic. Meanwhile, Johnson passed Almirola to move up to sixth place as he started to pursue his teammate/Playoff rival Byron for more.

Down to under 25 laps remaining, the caution returned when LaJoie made contact with the Turn 3 outside wall after cutting a right-front tire. The caution all but evaporated Harvick’s advantage of more than five seconds over Logano, Truex and Bowman while Johnson was behind Byron by more than a second for fifth place.

Under caution, the leaders pitted and Johnson emerged with the lead following a gusty two-tire pit stop. Harvick exited in second followed by Harvick, Truex, Bowman, Logano and Byron.

With 17 laps remaining, the racing under green resumed as Johnson and his No. 48 Chevrolet retained the lead for three turns. Through Turns 3 and 4, however, Harvick was back in command with the lead as Johnson retained second place in front of Truex. Byron, meanwhile, was in fourth place.

Four laps later, Truex moved into second place as Johnson had teammates Byron in the No. 24 car and Bowman in the No. 88 car in his rearview mirror. Another four laps later and with 10 laps remaining, Harvick extended his lead to nearly three seconds over Truex while Johnson was still in third place just ahead of teammates Byron and Bowman. Behind, Kyle Busch battled Custer for the final spot in the top 10.

For the final five laps, while the field around the track continued to battle for positions, Harvick was long gone from the field and he had enough of a big cushion over Truex to streak his No. 4 Ford across the finish line and grab another win to a dominating season and in his quest for his second Cup championship.

With 56 Cup career wins, Harvick moved into a tie with Kyle Busch for ninth place on the all-time NASCAR Cup wins list. In addition, Harvick became the third competitor to clinch the regular-season title since its inception in 2017 as he also recorded the 63rd Cup career win for Stewart-Haas Racing.

“I have to thank everybody on our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang,” Harvick said in Victory Lane on NBCSN. “Congratulations to Ford on their 700th Cup win. Just really got to thank everybody on this team. [Crew chief] Rodney [Childers] and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing for overcoming what happened yesterday with the track bar, being able to nail the balance today. Man, what a year. What a seven years. Just really, really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing for being able to drive this car. Week after week, they just put so much effort into making this thing go fast and it’s just been a great year. I love the grit about our race team. I think that’s what Gene Haas and Tony Stewart have built at Stewart-Haas Racing. Sometimes, we don’t have the fastest car, but we have guys that are willing to just suck it up and win. We have a weak link on that day, somebody else is gonna carry the team. Just really proud of that because that’s what it’s all about. You’re only as good as the people around you, and we have great people.”

Truex rallied from vibration issues in the closing laps to finish in the runner-up spot for the second day in a row. Compared to Saturday’s run in the late stages, Truex had nothing for race winner Harvick.

“Definitely not the same way [as Saturday],” Truex said. “I thought, if anything, we were probably a little bit worse today. We tried some things overnight, definitely didn’t do what we hoped it would do. Live and learn. It was a tough day. The Bass Pro Camry had good speed. It was just a handful again. Just never could get it to do what we wanted it to do. We fought hard, we battled. We executed well. Came home with a good result. We’ll keep working to try to get a little bit better. A finish [at Daytona] would be fabulous. If not, hopefully, we’ll pay it forward with a little bit of luck for Talladega in the Playoffs.”

Behind, Johnson held off teammates Byron and Bowman to finish in third place in his 38th and final event at the Monster Mile. With their results and the stage points both earned on Sunday, Byron holds sole possession of the 16th and final spot to the Playoffs by four points over teammate Johnson heading into next weekend’s regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

Logano finished in sixth place while Almirola, Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Custer finished in the top 10 ahead of Kyle Busch, Blaney, Kurt Busch, Buescher and Kenseth. 

Based on their top-15 results, Almirola and the Busch brothers secured spots for this year’s Cup Playoffs based on points along with Bowyer, who finished 16th, ahead of DiBenedetto.

Sunday’s Cup race capped off an eventful weekend of motorsports racing at the Monster Mile that involved a Cup race on Saturday, two Xfinity Series races on back-to-back dates, a Truck Series and an ARCA Menards Series event on Friday. Prior to Harvick’s win, the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway occurred, with Takuma Sato achieving his second Indy title over Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal.

There were 15 lead changes for six different leaders. The race featured seven cautions for 40 laps.


1. Kevin Harvick, 223 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner

2. Martin Truex Jr.

3. Jimmie Johnson, three laps led

4. William Byron

5. Alex Bowman

6. Joey Logano, 15 laps led

7. Aric Almirola, 22 laps led

8. Brad Keselowski

9. Austin Dillon

10. Cole Custer

11. Kyle Busch 

12. Ryan Blaney, 37 laps led

13. Kurt Busch

14. Chris Buescher

15. Matt Kenseth

16. Clint Bowyer

17. Matt DiBenedetto, 11 laps led

18. Tyler Reddick

19. Denny Hamlin

20. John Hunter Nemechek

21. Bubba Wallace

22. Erik Jones, one lap down

23. Corey LaJoie, one lap down

24. Ryan Newman, one lap down

25. Michael McDowell, one lap down

26. Ryan Preece, one lap down

27. Christopher Bell, one lap down

28. Daniel Suarez, two laps down

29. Ty Dillon, two laps down

30. Brennan Poole, six laps down

31. B.J. McLeod, eight laps down

32. Josh Bilicki, nine laps down

33. Reed Sorenson, nine laps down

34. Quin Houff, nine laps down

35. Garrett Smithley, 15 laps down

36. Timmy Hill – OUT

37. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 96 laps down

38. J.J. Yeley – OUT

39. Chase Elliott – OUT, Accident

40. Joey Gase – OUT, Accident

The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and the site of the final regular-season event on Saturday, August 29, where the 2020 Cup Playoffs will be determined. The race will air at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


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