HURRICANE HARVICK GETS SEVENTH WIN
Hodges News Service
BROOKLYN, Mich.--Kevin Harvick blew away the competition in Sunday's Cup Series race like a monster hurricane. He won both stages of the 200-lap race and led 108 laps, the most of any driver.
Harvick was leading when he made his last pit stop on lap 171. By lap 190, he had regained the lead and went on to get his seventh win of the season by 3.23-seconds over runner-up Brad Keselowski.
What a race, said Harvick. There was no struggling with the car today. It was great. The team did a fabulous job. All I had to do was drive. You don't get many races like this one. This is the kind of day you always hope for and remember.
Keselowski started the race from 13th and was never able to lead a lap. He was involved in several minor incidents that kept him from getting to the front and being able to contend for the lead.
The car wasn't what we needed today, he said. We made a couple changes and it helped. We made another one, and it hurt us. The team did a good job in getting me out in position to where I could race with the leaders, but we didn't have a winning car today.
Third-place finisher, Kyle Busch led 22 laps and had a fast car early in the race.
You better be right on to win these races these days with the guys that are winning and being able to execute at the end of the day, said Busch. Our car was pretty close, but certainly wish we had just a tick more. We were able to take that, but the restarts were the name of the game here, and we were kind of on the bottom there the last couple of times and got shuffled back and wasn't able to pass once everybody got strung out. Best chance we had to pass guys was just on strategy there at the end and on pit road. The car was good, and we got the most out of our day.
Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, and Joey Logano rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Chase Elliott, last week's winner at Watkins Glen was not able to lead any laps. He was hit with a pit road tire violation by his team, which sent him to the tail end of the field of cars, and he had to work his way back towards the front.
Erik Jones had a rough day. During lap 4 a tire went down on his No. 20 Toyota, causing him to spin down into the infield, but he was able to continue. Then on lap 84, he was bumped by Ryan Blaney and spun around on the track. Despite all the bumping and sliding he finished 13th.
But all the bad luck wasn't relegated to Jones. During lap 134, Ty Dillon ran over a large chunk of sheet metal that was on the back straightaway, knocking a whole in his engine's oil pan and spreading the sticky stuff all over the track. There was an extended caution period for nine laps, while speedway safety crews cleaned up the oily track. Dillon wound up 38th.
With just three races left before the 10-race Chase for this year's championship begins, the field is starting to shape up. The following drivers are automatically locked in by virtue of at least one win: 1. Harvick, 2. Kyle Busch, 3. Truex Jr., 4. Bowyer, 5. Elliott, 6. Logano, 7. Jones, 8. Austin Dillon. The remaining eight drivers are eligible based on points: 9. Kurt Busch, 10. Keselowski, 11. Blaney, 12. Hamlin, 13. Larson, 14. Almirola, 15. Johnson, 16. Bowman.
Top-10 NASCAR Xfinity Series leaders after 21 of 33: 1. Bell-771, 2. Sadler-754, 3. Hemric-754, 4. Custer-752, 5. Allgaier-751, 6. B. Jones-623, 7. Reddick-606, 8. R. Truex-596, 9. Cindric-559, 10. Tifft-548.
Top-10 NASCAR Truck Series leaders after 15 of 23: 1. Sauter-625, 2. Gragson-569, 3. Enfinger-550, 4. Friesen-536, 5. Moffitt-533, 6. Crafton-497, 7. Haley-494, 8. Rhodes-492, 9. Snider-403,
BRIAN FRANCE STEPS DOWN
NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France has stepped down following an arrest in New York after the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen on August 5.
He was arrested on charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to a Sag Harbor Village (New York) Police Department news release.
France was arrested at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, held overnight and arraigned Monday morning at the Sag Harbor Village Justice Court, where he was released on his own recognizance.
Brian France is the grandson of Bill France Sr., who co-founded NASCAR in 1948. NASCAR is a private corporation, and there are no public records listing Brian France as owner of any of the stock. The principal owners are Jim France and Lisa France Kennedy, Brian's uncle and aunt.
Under NASCAR's substance abuse policy, Brian France could be suspended and required to go through a recovery program, or he could be subjected to drug testing.
Instead of suspending him, he was placed on an indefinite leave of absence.
NASCAR Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Jim France has assumed the role of interim chairman and chief executive officer.
With Brian's leadership already in question as NASCAR's attendance and television ratings continue to drop year after year, he could take this opportunity to exit permanently, not just take what he termed an "indefinite" leave of absence. It would be a way for him to leave not based on performance but for horrible decision-making.
However Brian has made some good contributions to the sport. Since 2003, when he took over the NASCAR leadership, he has spearheaded many of the best projects in NASCAR, including helping create and negotiate a unified television package encompassing all tracks, a commitment to diversity and overseeing a sport that hasn't had a death in a national series race since 2001.
For the time being, Jim France will be at the helm. Since he has always been known as a behind-the-scenes leader, don't expect any big grandstand play from him.
It's ironic, but it seems like every time NASCAR gets on a roll, they shoot themselves in the foot.
They had a great story going for them after the Watkins Glen race. Chase Elliott, the son of Hall of Fame driver Bill Elliott won his first race after eight runner-up finishes, and Ford was scheduled to introduce its new Mustang body style for the Cup Series this week.
Like in all of life's venues, racing has its good and bad sides.
Meanwhile, Jim Utter of Motorsports.com reported that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing will be moving to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019. Busch will evidently replace Jamie McMurray, who currently drives the No. 1 Chevrolet, because McMurray's contract expires at the end of this season.
Racing Joke: Kyle has helmet on, climbs into his race car and gets ready to buckle up for Sunday's race. Suddenly he screams over the team radio, Hey, something's wrong. Someone took my steering wheel, they took my brake pedal, and they even took my gas pedal.
There was a moment of silence, then he came back on the radio and quietly said, Never mind, I'm in the back seat.
Weekend Racing: There will be three nights of racing at the high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway.
Wed., Aug. 15; Truck Series race 16 of 23; Starting time: 8:30 pm ET; TV: FoxSports1.
Fri., Aug. 17; Xfinity series race 22 of 33: Starting time: 7:30 pm ET; TV: NBCSN.
Sat., Aug. 18; Cup Series race 24 of 36; Starting time: 7:30 pm ET; TV: NBCSN.
Racing Trivia Question: Who was the 2017 Xfinity Series champion?
Last Week's Question. How many Cup Series drivers will be included in the first round of playoffs? Answer. Sixteen.
Gerald Hodges is a syndicated NASCAR photojournalist and author. You may contact him by e-mail at: email@example.com.