Kevin Harvick tops Kyle Busch for Bristol Night Race win

Kevin Harvick held off a determined Kyle Busch to earn his second victory of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Harvick and Busch emerged as the top contenders late in Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Over the final 50 of 500 laps, Harvick and Busch played a game of cat-and-mouse for the lead. Busch used lapped traffic to grab the lead on Lap 459 only to see Harvick reclaim the top spot with 31 laps to go, using Joey Logano’s lapped car as a pick.

Harvick ended up taking the checkered flag by .310 seconds to claim his second win of the 2020 playoffs and career-best ninth of the season. The win is also the 58th of his career.

“To beat Kyle Busch at Bristol, I kind of got myself in a little bit of a ringer there. I hit a lapped car and got a hole in the right-front nose, but just kept fighting,” Harvick said. “We don’t have anything else to lose. We were here to try to win a race. I know how much Rodney (Childers, crew chief) really enjoys coming here and, hell, how can you not enjoy coming here with all this enthusiasm.  Everybody is tired of being at home.

“I’m so happy to see all these fans in the grandstands. I was so jacked up when I got in this race car tonight to come here and just race and to be able to do that in front of people, that’s the enthusiasm that you get is from the crowd and I’m so excited for our team. The guys are just doing a great job.”

Asked if there was any way to describe this season, Harvick said: “There is not.  It’s just been a weird a year, but it’s been an unbelievable year on the race track.”

Both Harvick and Busch advance to the Round of 12 of the playoffs but Busch – the reigning series champion – remains winless on the season.

Erik Jones finished third in the race, Tyler Reddick fourth and Aric Almirola completed the top-five. Completing the top-10 were Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Ryan Preece and Michael McDowell.

Joining Harvick and Kyle Busch in the Round of 12 are Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Logano, Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch.

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, some lead-lap cars pit but Kyle Busch was among those who stayed out and continued to lead the way on the restart on Lap 261.

On Lap 280, Harvick went to the outside of Kyle Busch off Turn 2 and came away with the lead. Elliott ran third.

Bowman hit pit road on Lap 301 for a green-flag stop after reporting a significant vibration.

On Lap 308, Keselowski was black-flagged by NASCAR for not meeting minimum speed and was given one chance to correct the problem. Keselowski took his No. 2 Ford to the garage.

With 180 laps remaining in the race, Harvick’s lead over Kyle Busch reached 1-second as Elliott remained in third, 4 seconds behind the leader.

On Lap 326, Kurt Busch hit pit road for a green-flag stop after complaining of an increasing vibration. Busch came back to the track in 26th and three laps down.

With 150 laps to go, Harvick maintained a 2-second lead over Kyle Busch while Elliott remained in third more than 6 seconds back.

Ryan Blaney made a green-flag stop on Lap 356 after he had been falling through the field and said he believed his left-front tire “was coming apart.”

Logano on Lap 371 became the first car on the lead-lap to make their scheduled green-flag stop to take on new tires and fuel to make it to the finish of the race.

With 100 laps remaining in the race, Harvick had expanded his lead to 6.3 seconds over Elliott but both still had to make a final pit stop.

On Lap 407 as Harvick was preparing to make a green-flag stop, Austin Dillon got into James Davison in an incident that also collected Reed Sorenson to bring out a caution.

Harvick was the first off pit road of the six cars remaining on the lead lap. On the restart on Lap 419, he was followed by Bowyer, Jones and Kyle Busch.

Kyle Busch quickly powered back into the runner-up spot shortly after the restart.

With 60 laps to go, Harvick maintained a small but steady lead over Kyle Busch with Jones in third.

While both drivers battled in lapped traffic, Kyle Busch reclaimed the lead on the backstretch on Lap 459.

Using Logano’s car as a pick, Harvick powered around Kyle Busch to reclaim the lead with 31 laps remaining.

Stage 2

Kyle Busch secured the Stage 2 win over Harvick thanks to a caution with one lap remaining in the stage. Ryan Newman spun off Turn 2 but managed to stay off the wall.

Elliott was third, Logano fourth and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, the lead-lap cars all pit with Kyle Busch the first off pit road.

On the restart on Lap 137, Kyle Busch led the way followed by Bowman and Elliott.

With 85 laps remaining in the second stage, Kyle Busch remained out front but was being challenged by Elliott for the lead. Harvick ran third.

On Lap 186, Matt DiBenedetto made a green-flag pit stop for a loose wheel, which left him running 29th and three laps down when he returned to the track.

With 55 laps to go in the stage, Kyle Busch remained out front with half-second lead over Elliott.

On Lap 212, Truex went down a lap and immediately headed to pit road for a green-flag stop for what he thought was “a tire coming apart.”

It appears Hamlin got into the back of Truex as Truex was coming back on the track following his stop, which did significant damage to the nose of Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota.

With under 25 laps to go in the stage, Harvick moved into the second spot as Elliott dropped to third.

On Lap 231, William Byron made contact with rear of Bell’s No. 95 Toyota while trying to avoid the car of Joey Gase. Byron suffered terminal damage to his radiator. That was the end of Byron’s race and will not advance to the Round of 12 in the playoffs.

During the caution, the lead-lap cars pit with Kyle Busch the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 242, Kyle Busch led the way followed by Logano and Kurt Busch.

Harvick quickly moved into the second spot on the restart and Elliott moved into third as Logano dropped to fourth.

Stage 1

Elliott held off a furious charge from Kyle Busch, who started from the rear of the field, to earn the Stage 1 win – his third consecutive stage victory.

Harvick was third, Bowman fourth and Christopher Bell rounded out the top-five.

Keselowski started on the pole and led the first 17 laps until Harvick got around him to take the lead on Lap 18.

On Lap 27, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wrecked off Turn 2 after contact from Johnson which brought out a caution. The caution also served as NASCAR’s planned competition caution.

DiBenedetto was the first off pit road thanks to a two-tire stop. Newman was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

On the restart on Lap 41, DiBenedetto was followed by Reddick and Harvick.

Keselowski powered around DiBenedetto off Turn 2 on Lap 43 to retake the lead.

With 50 laps remaining in the first stage, Keselowski opened up a more than 2.5-second lead over DiBenedetto with Logano in third.

On Lap 96, Elliott moved into the runner-up spot and began closing on Keselowski.

Elliott got around Keselowski on Lap 107 to take the lead in the race for the first time while Kyle Busch moved to third.

Busch took over the second spot with 15 laps to go in the stage.

Six drivers had to start the race from the rear of the field – Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Jones for twice failing pre-race inspection, Corey LaJoie and Bubba Wallace for unapproved adjustments and J.J. Yeley for a driver change in the No. 15 car.

Cla#Driver ManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalLaps Led
14 Kevin Harvick Ford5002:46’43.611  226
218 Kyle Busch Toyota5002:46’43.9210.3100.310159
320 Erik Jones Toyota5002:46’44.4300.8190.509 
48 Tyler Reddick Chevrolet5002:46’49.7906.1795.360 
510 Aric Almirola Ford5002:46’52.1188.5072.3281
614 Clint Bowyer Ford5002:46’55.19711.5863.079 
79 Chase Elliott Chevrolet4992:46’50.4521 Lap1 Lap23
817 Chris Buescher Ford4992:46’53.7981 Lap3.346 
937 Ryan Preece Chevrolet4992:46’58.4501 Lap4.652 
1034 Michael McDowell Ford4982:46’45.9032 Laps1 Lap 
1122 Joey Logano Ford4982:46’48.2492 Laps2.346 
123 Austin Dillon Chevrolet4982:46’48.8382 Laps0.589 
1312 Ryan Blaney Ford4982:46’50.2512 Laps1.413 
1442 Matt Kenseth Chevrolet4982:46’53.3032 Laps3.052 
151 Kurt Busch Chevrolet4982:46’57.6642 Laps4.361 
1688 Alex Bowman Chevrolet4982:46’57.8902 Laps0.226 
1748 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet4982:46’58.9262 Laps1.036 
1813 Ty Dillon Chevrolet4972:46’45.0523 Laps1 Lap 
1921 Matt DiBenedetto Ford4972:46’46.5313 Laps1.4797
2038 John Hunter Nemechek Ford4972:46’48.1193 Laps1.588 
2111 Denny Hamlin Toyota4972:46’48.6453 Laps0.5261
2243 Bubba Wallace Chevrolet4972:46’52.7243 Laps4.079 
2341 Cole Custer Ford4972:46’53.4433 Laps0.719 
2419 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota4962:46’55.9474 Laps1 Lap 
256 Ryan Newman Ford4962:46’57.2284 Laps1.281 
2696 Daniel Suarez Toyota4952:46’54.1435 Laps1 Lap 
2727 Gray Gaulding Ford4882:46’51.44212 Laps7 Laps 
2895 Christopher Bell Toyota4872:46’47.49013 Laps1 Lap1
2900 Quin Houff Chevrolet4832:46’52.18217 Laps4 Laps 
3015 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet4792:46’59.36621 Laps4 Laps 
3151 Joey Gase Ford4632:46’44.26637 Laps16 Laps 
3278 Garrett Smithley Chevrolet4362:46’55.54364 Laps27 Laps 
3332 Corey Lajoie Ford4192:27’17.94381 Laps17 Laps 
342 Brad Keselowski Ford4122:46’52.84988 Laps7 Laps82
3553 James Davison Ford4012:25’38.67399 Laps11 Laps 
3677 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet3172:39’38.514183 Laps84 Laps 
3766 Timmy Hill Toyota3131:54’51.400187 Laps4 Laps 
3824 William Byron Chevrolet2321:15’43.827268 Laps81 Laps 
397 Josh Bilicki Chevrolet5323’47.030447 Laps179 Laps 
4047 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet287’46.285472 Laps25 Laps 

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