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posted May 20, 2018
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Harvick Has Wheels of Fire
Furnished by NASCAR

HARVICK HAS WHEELS OF FIRE
Hodges News Service
CONCORD, N.C.--Kevin Harvick is driving a set of hot wheels. He has five Cup Series victories this season, the most of any driver, and last Saturday night, easily outraced his competitor's to win this year's All-Star event.
   He led all the way in the 10-lap concluding segment of the race. His march to victory was delayed when Joey Logano and Kyle Larson wrecked with three laps to go.
   Harvick collected $1 million for the win, his second in the All-Star Race. He outran second-place Daniel Suarez by .32-seconds. Logano, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott completed the top five.
   “Our car was super-fast,” Harvick said. “I could accelerate well. I was not very good on the bottom. I would push and slide. But in a straight line this thing was a rocket.”
   “I thought on that last restart that my best opportunity was Logano. He is one of the best on the restarts. I knew he would work with me as good as possible, because that is just the way that most of us do it from Ford. We were able to just stay even through one and two, and I really thought once we got to the backstretch we could clear him. I didn't want to be on the bottom. I didn't feel my car was stable enough to be under someone when they were on my right side. I had to take my lumps through one and two and hope that the guy behind me was still with me when we got to the exit of two – and we were able to win. We needed to be in control of the race to have a chance at winning. If we were third or fourth we would have been in big trouble. We needed to be on the front row with clean air, because that is the only chance our car would handle good enough.”
   Suarez advanced from the preliminary Open race to the feature.
   “I was racing as hard as I could,” Suarez said. “If I was wrecking, I was wrecking. If I was winning, I was winning. We just needed a little bit more.”
   With three laps left in the race, Logano, who finished third,  bounced off the outside wall after being touched by Larson. Logano ran into Larson, sending Larson's Chevrolet across the grass separating the frontstretch from pit road and slowing the field under caution.
   “Overall it was a fun night,” said Logano. “We went back to the front and back to the front; I think we passed the most cars. It was a lot of fun racing with nothing to lose. I wish every race was this much fun, where you just go for it and don't think about anything else. Not the million dollars, not the goal, but we had a good time.”
   The remaining top-10: 6. Jimmie Johnson, 7. Kyle Larson, 8. AJ Allmendinger, 9. Kyle Busch, 10. Kasey Kahne.
   Drivers who advanced to the All-Star race by winning one of the three stages of the Open were Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and A.J. Allmendinger. The fan vote went to Chase Elliott for the third straight year.
SAUTER GETS CHARLOTTE TRUCK RACE
   Johnny Sauter pulled away from Kyle Busch to win Friday night's Truck Series race at Charlotte.
   “It's a tough place and everybody wants to win here and I never thought I'd win here,” Sauter said. “I've had good runs here and I've had very humbling runs here, to say the least.
   “To win this race is just super special. I can't thank everyone at GMS Racing enough. It was a team effort. I was worried about our pit strategy there at the beginning and then we just mowed right through (the field).”
   Busch ended up winning the battle for second, Brandon Jones was third, Brett Moffitt finished fourth and Ben Rhodes completed the top-five.  Stewart Friesen, Parker Kligerman, Noah Gragson, John Nemechek, and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top-10.
   Top-10 leaders after 7 of 23: 1. Sauter-329, 2. Gragson-270, 3. Moffitt-264, 4. Rhodes-250, 5. Enfinger-239, 6. Crafton-237, 7. Friesen-209, 8. Haley-208, 9. Sargeant-193, 10. Snider-189.
LARSON HIT WITH BIG PENALTY
   Kyle Larson is the latest NASCAR Cup Series driver to be handed a stiff penalty after NASCAR inspectors found a rear window violation after the Kansas race.
   NASCAR announced Tuesday it found in the teardown of the No. 42 car that the rear window was not flush to the rear deck lid and the rear window support braces were not keeping the rear window glass rigid in all directions.
   An improper rear window with an ominous shape is believed to create an aerodynamically competitive advantage.
   Larson led 101 laps on the night and was in position for his first Cup Series win on 1.5-mile track but was involved in a 'bump and shove' with Ryan Blaney late in the race. The contact resulted in a dented left rear and Larson told Fox Sports after the race the rear-window malfunction was caused from that incident.
   Larson finished fourth but as a result of the penalty, his crew chief Chad Johnston was fined $50,000, and car chief David Bryant was suspended from the next two points-paying races. The team was also docked 20 points from the drivers' and car owners' standings and Larson will lose a playoff point earned with his stage win at Kansas.
   Racing Joke: During the off season, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson go on a camping trip. After a good dinner, they retire for the night, and go to sleep in their tent.    Some hours later, Johnson wakes up and nudges his racing buddy. “Jeff, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”   “I see millions and millions of stars,” exclaims Gordon.    “And what do you deduce from that?”    Gordon ponders for a minute.    “Well, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of the universe. What does it tell you, Jimmie?”    Johnson said: “Jeff, you idiot, it means that somebody stole our tent.”
   Weekend Racing: The Cup and Truck teams are at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Cup race at 600 miles (400 laps) will be the longest race of the season. The annual Cup series points race is held during Memorial Weekend. The event, when first held in 1960, became the first race to be held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It is unique for the fact that the race changes drastically from start to finish. It starts around 6:20 PM and the track is bathed in sunlight for the first third of the race. The second third happens at dusk, and the final third under the lights.
   The event was started as an attempt by NASCAR to stage a Memorial Day weekend event to compete with the open-wheel Indianapolis 500. It was not until 1974, however, that both races competed head-to-head on the same day. Before 1974, the two races were held on different days of the week, and on a few occasions, some drivers drove in both; this continued even after the Coca-Cola 600 was moved to the same day, albeit to a smaller degree. In fact, the first World 600 was not held on the Memorial Day weekend; it was held on June 16 due to snowstorms that delayed the completion of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sat., May 26; Xfinity Series race 11 of 33; Starting time: 1 pm ET; TV: FoxSports1.
Sun., May 27; Cup Series race 13 of 36; Starting time: 6 pm ET TV: Fox.
   Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup driver has the most wins at Charlotte?
   Last week's question. How many stages does NASCAR Cup Series races consist of? Answer. Three.
   Gerald Hodges is a syndicated NASCAR photojournalist and author. You may contact him by e-mail at: hodges@race500.com.