(MRN) The Monster Energy Series returned to superspeedway competition on Sunday and a member of NASCAR’s “Big Three” returned to Victory Lane with Kevin Harvick winning at Michigan International Speedway. Following Chase Elliott’s breakthrough victory on the road course at Watkins Glen International last weekend, Harvick thumped the field on Sunday … winning all three stages and leading 108 of the two hundred laps on the way to his seventh victory of 2018. Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Junior have now combined to win seventeen of the year’s first twenty-three races. Harvick’s big day on the big oval also paid seven playoff points, moving him ahead of Busch in post-season bonus points.
But with a third-place finish on Sunday and just three races left in the regular season, Busch still maintains a comfortable lead in the standings that pay an extra fifteen bonus playoff points to the regular-season champion.
Truex, the other member of the “Big Three,” struggled to a fourteenth-place finish.
Clint Bowyer, one of Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammates, finished twelfth in his bid for a season sweep on the two-mile Irish Hills oval.
Harvick’s margin of victory over runner-up Brad Keselowski was three-point-two seconds as Ford swept the top two spots. Busch, Austin Dillon and Ryan Blaney completed the top five.
Pole winner Denny Hamlin finished outside the top five in each of the first two stages and led just thirteen laps en route to an eighth-place finish. Bubba Wallace was the highest-finishing rookie, in twenty-third place.
NASCAR CUP SERIES
Top 10 Finishers in the Consumers Energy 400
DRIVER STARTING POSITION LAPS LED
1. Kevin Harvick (3) 108
2. Brad Keselowski (18) —
3. Kyle Busch (2) 22
4. Austin Dillon (5) 5
5. Ryan Blaney (8) —
6. Kurt Busch (12) —
7. Aric Almirola (11) —
8. Denny Hamlin (Pole) 13
9. Chase Elliott (21) —
10. Joey Logano (9) 1
RACE NOTES …
Twenty-six-year-old Garrett Smithley ran the Mid-Ohio/Michigan double this weekend – finishing twenty-eighth in Saturday’s X-finity Series race, traveling 175 miles northwest to Michigan International Speedway and placing thirty-second in Sunday’s Monster Energy Series headliner … Sunday’s race included eight cautions, two shy of the track record set in 2006. There were thirty-seven yellow-flag laps … With Kevin Harvick’s victory yesterday, Stewart-Haas Racing Fords recorded a season sweep at M-I-S. Clint Bowyer won the rain-shortened event there in June.
NASCAR CUP SERIES Playoff Push After 23 Races
1. Kevin Harvick 7 Wins and 40 Playoff Points
2. Kyle Busch 6 Wins and 35 Playoff Points
3. M. Truex Jr. 4 Wins and 27 Playoff Points
4. Clint Bowyer 2 Wins and 10 Playoff Points
5. Chase Elliott 1 Win and 8 Playoff Points
6. Joey Logano 1 Win and 7 Playoff Points
7. Austin Dillon 1 Win and 5 Playoff Points
8. Erik Jones 1 Win and 5 Playoff Points
WINLESS DRIVERS POINTS
9. Kurt Busch 750
10. Brad Keselowski 709
11. Ryan Blaney 687
12. Denny Hamlin 684
13. Kyle Larson 681
14. Aric Almirola 639
15. Jimmie Johnson 572
16. Alex Bowman 542
17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -62
18. Paul Menard -70
19. Daniel Suarez -82
20. Ryan Newman -86