Kevin Harvick makes it two in a row and wins at Richmond Raceway

credit: Carol D'Agostino at Skirts and Scuffs

Going into the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway all the talk was about tire wear, tire falloff, and whether the two stop final stage strategy was the way to go. The race started with an early single car spin by Tyler Reddick’s No. 8 car at Lap 3. Ross Chastain who started on the outside pole along side polesitter Kyle Larson won Stage One with a dominant performance, leading all 70 laps.

Predictably the race featured long green flag runs. The favorite going into the race Martin Truex Jr., who needs a win to make it into the Playoff, battled an ill-handling car for most of the race. Matters got worse for the No. 19 in Stage Two when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. missed the box getting into pit road and ended up blending into the track just as Martin Truex Jr. was coming by. Both cars sustained minor damage, but did not trigger a caution.

Joey Logano dominated Stage Two leading 143 laps, putting several cars a lap down. At Lap 183 the No. 45 car of Ty Gibbs, who substituted for Kurt Busch for the fourth consecutive week, pulled into the garage with an engine issue. Gibbs spent a good portion of Stage One racing door to door with Kurt’s brother, Kyle Busch.

At Lap 241 a multi-car incident at Turn 4 involving Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Martin Truex Jr., and Noah Gragson brought out the second caution for an incident on the track. Eleven laps later at Lap 252 Christopher Bell brought out the third non-stage break caution for a single car spin.

Joey Logano and Kyle Larson remained one-two throughout most of the race. But at Lap 273 Kevin Harvick passed Larson for second. Larson’s No. 5 ended up dropping back into the Top 10 after being moved by Denny Hamlin.

After a series of green flag stops Joey Logano regained the lead with Kevin Harvick taking the second spot. Logano and Harvick ran a good portion of the final laps of the race performing a primer on how to search for the fastest line around Richmond. Harvick leveraged shifting and actually prepared for the race by grinding down the soles of his shoes and adding grease to make the throttle and brakes as smooth as possible.

Harvick cycled back to the front with 66 laps to go after Hamlin lead the way to green flag pit stops. Harvick had to deal with both lapped traffic as well as a charging due of Chrises – Christopher Bell and Chris Buescher. But despite missing some shifting on the closing laps, no one had anything for the No. 4 car.

“Well, I knew he was coming (Christopher Bell), but I forgot to shift down the front straightaway the last time. I was not paying attention and he got closer than he should have,” Harvick said in his post-race interview. “I made a mistake there a couple laps doing the same thing. I wasn't shifting on the back and I was shifting in the front. There was a lot going on, and made a couple mistakes, let him get too close,” he added.

Harvick credits the team’s consistent hard work and track changes for today’s victory. “The cars have been running good week in and week out, and you see that we have a lot better understanding of what's going on with how we adjusted on the car after the first run and were able to get our car handling a lot better. I think as it got dark, the racetrack really came to our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang.”

The win is Harvick’s milestone 60th career NASCAR Cup Series victory in 778 Cup Series races, tying him with Kyle Busch for ninth on the series’ all-time win list. This is his second consecutive win and 13th Top 10 finish this season. This is Harvick’s fourth victory and 29th Top 10 finish in 43 races at Richmond Raceway. The win was crew chief Rodney Childress’ first win at Richmond Raceway.

Christopher Bell finished in the runner up position with Chris Buescher coming in third. Denny Hamlin ended the race in fourth, with Joey Logano and Kyle Larson finishing sixth and 14, respectively.

Next week the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen for a triple race weekend with the NASCAR Camping World Trusk Series, the NASCAR XFinity Series and the NASCAR Cup Series. The weekend opens with an ARCA Menard’s Series race on Friday night.
Kevin Harvick makes it two in a row and wins at Richmond Raceway Kevin Harvick makes it two in a row and wins at Richmond Raceway Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Sunday, August 14, 2022 Rating: 5