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Harvick thrives while Johnson and Kenseth merely survive

Kansas can be a make-or-break Chase race: this year Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch came out on top, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth escaped serious harm, but Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman took big hits.
Kevin Harvick led the field to the green flag for the start of the Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon, and three and a half hours later he crossed the finish line over a second clear of Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon to clinch the chequered flag, having led for over half the race and for more than twice as long as anyone else managed in the 267-lap event.

Draw a straight line between those two moments and you might think this was a dull affair, with Harvick dominating throughout and little happening all day. That would not, however, be an entirely accurate picture.

"It was just a crazy day," was Jimmie Johnson's view. "There were weird restarts, wacky restarts, a lot of chaos there. Then caution after caution for who knows what."

The drivers had arrived at Kansas knowing that things might get a little interesting, thanks to a fast, slick track that was repaved just last year, and an innovative new tyre compound design from Goodyear designed to help make racing on the 1.5-mile speedway more interesting. It certainly did that, right from lap 1, when Danica Patrick found that her services were no longer required after she lost control of the #10 in turn 2, collecting the cars of David Reutimann and Cole Whitt in the process.

"All I can say is, I didn't try to do anything. I just found myself sideways in the middle of the corner and that was it," she said. "I just was looking forward to having a good day and it's over with within a matter of feet," she sighed, adding: "I'm really sorry. I'm really bummed."

Also involved in the incident was Kyle Busch, who had been forced to start at the back of the field on Sunday after a practice crash forced him into the backup car. His brother Kurt was in the same position, but the Furniture Row Racing #78 avoided the first lap accident which forced Kyle to dive low onto the apron leaving him concerned about splitter damage which needed to be checked out on pit road.

The race resumed on lap 10 and Harvick continued to lead through to the second caution on lap 43 for a tyre going down on Michael McDowell's car. Harvick won the race off pit road which saw everyone opt for two tyres, and took point once more at the restart on lap 48 followed by a trio of Hendrick cars consisting of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Eventually they wore down the leader and Harvick was passed first by Johnson and then Earnhardt before the next caution on lap 88 for debris in turn 3.

This was not good news for Harvick who had just made a pit stop under green, or for Johnson who was just inches from pit road when the caution came out and who as a consequence now found himself down in 17th position for the restart which saw Matt Kenseth edge past Earnhardt to take the lead. Harvick meanwhile was mired in in the pack, the dominating pace the #29 had shown while out in front for 80 of the first 82 laps now completely absent, leaving him fearing for the worst.

"In traffic, the car was tight," he said. "[The crew] kept me calm because I was starting to get a little wound up because I knew we had a real fast car out front. It was just a matter of getting there because track position was so important.




Related Pictures

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Kevin Harvick, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished 1st, Kurt Busch, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet SS finished 2nd, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finished 3rd Sunday, October 6, 2013 in the Hollywood Casino 400 race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Harvick is 3rd, Busch is 7th, and Gordon is 4th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo Credit: HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS won Sunday, October 6, 2013 in the Hollywood Casino 400 race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Harvick is 3rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo Credit: HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
Cole Whitt, driver of the #30 Swan Energy Toyota, David Reutimann, driver of the #83 Burger King/Dr Pepper Toyota, and Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 13th Annual Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 6, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet of Danica Patrick is towed to the garage after an on-track incident on the first lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 13th Annual Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 6, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 13th Annual Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 6, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet, races to the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 13th Annual Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 6, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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