Kevin Harvick has punched his ticket to the third round of the Chase.
Kevin Harvick bagged the Bank of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday evening. The Californian dominated the race, leading 162 of the 334 laps. He drove the Budweiser Chevrolet and won for the 26th time in his career and for third time in 2014.
Race-winning Kevin Harvick comments
“We needed this one,” the winner said. “We’ve had really fast race cars, and we just needed not to self-destruct and nobody needed to get mad at anyone else. Everybody on our team has just continued to build better race cars, and we know that we’ve had the cars to run up front and lead laps and do the things that we need to do. Things just haven’t gone right and we’ve made some mistakes. This was the night that we needed to win, as I don’t want to go to Talladega next week.”
I was closing on Kevin (Harvick) but couldn’t get close enough to him
Reflecting on his team’s plan, he added, “Oh, we came here and tested thinking that this was going to be the hardest round to get through because of Talladega. There’s so much that you can’t control there. We wanted to try to control the things that we could control. We felt like Kansas and here (Charlotte) were playing to our strengths; and just see where it fell after that once we get to the next round. So I’m really proud of everybody at SHR. I’m really proud of all my guys on this team. I just can’t thank everybody enough.”
Second place went to Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray took the third spot.
Second place Jeff Gordon comments
Commented Gordon, “We had a great start to the race and after making a few adjustments, we were able to get the lead before losing track position. We fought it from there and tried to make (more) adjustments. At the end, we got out of cycle but we put on four tires and were able to drive up there to second. I was closing on Kevin (Harvick) but couldn’t get close enough to him. We just didn’t have the things we needed but we had a strong finish to get second. I am really proud of my guys.”
He expressed relief not to have to rely upon a good run at Talladega. “We will go there and race the way we always do there and put ourselves into position for a good finish.”
McMurray expressed his delight with his strong run in the McDonald’s Monopoly Chevrolet. ‘We’ve been through a couple of tough years with this team,” he noted. “It is so great to have both of our cars running so well. I was not only thrilled for our team but the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) as well. This is a big weekend for all the race teams for the teams and families to watch us all work.”
The best of the rest
Fourth and fifth were Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne.
Chasers in trouble
Former champion Brad Keselowski ended up 16th after an up-and down-race and reigning champion Jimmie Johnson finished a disappointing 17th. At times during the long race, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus exchanged terse words.
Matt Kenseth overcame a 42nd place starting position to finish 20th, although he and Keselowski tangled in the late going.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an off night after his shifter broke off early-on. After numerous stops and considerable time lost in pits, he rebounded to 20th place but one lap behind the lead pack.
After the checkered flag, tempers overflowed among Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart with Keselowski being the focus of the attention.
“Keselowski ruined our day,” Hamlin said. "What goes around, comes around."
Keselowski told reporters, "Those guys can dish it out but they can't take it."
Kenseth was furious with the post-race antics, saying "If he wants to come and talk about it like a man then go do that, but to try to wreck somebody on the race track and to come down pit road with other cars and people standing around with my seat belts off and drive into the side of me is just inexcusable. There is no excuse for that."