Kevin Harvick Wins Sixth Race of 2018 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

With late-race pass on Kyle Busch in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, Kevin Harvick breaks a tie with Busch for most wins in 2018.

Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, the two wins leaders in the first 19 races of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, battled for a sixth victory in race 20 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Sunday. 

Busch took his first and only lead of the race by getting out of the pits first during a caution for Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer on Lap 256. Afterwards, Harvick made contact with Busch and took the lead on Lap 294 of the 301-lap race and pulled away to victory.

“I just didn’t know if I was gonna get there at the end, and I felt like that was my best opportunity to do what I had to do to win,” Harvick said. “I didn’t want to wreck him, but I didn’t want to waste a bunch of time behind him. I just got to thank everybody on this No. 4 Busch Beer/Jimmy John’s Ford for everything that they do—Mobil 1, Haas Automation, Hunt Brother’s, everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing. What a great weekend.”

Busch took runner-up honors between two SHR teammates as Aric Almirola finished third.

Stewart-Haas Racing dominated throughout the second half of the race. After starting on the pole and leading until a Lap 35 competition caution, SHR driver Kurt Busch was back up front after getting off pit road first just past the halfway point of the race. Shortly after Lap 200, Almirola and Harvick were up to second and third for an SHR 1-2-3.

Kurt Busch starts on the pole

Kurt Busch claimed the pole for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after three rounds of qualifying on July 20, 2018., Getty Images for NASCAR

A cautious pit stop under green to avoid Ryan Blaney near Lap 225 cost Kurt Busch the lead, leaving his teammates Almirola and Harvick in a battle for the top spot. Almirola took the lead before Kyle Busch got to the front under caution. Kurt Busch finished eighth after leading a race-high 94 laps.

Rain toyed with the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 scheduled, beginning with a time shift Saturday. NASCAR announced the day prior to the race that the planned start time Saturday would be moved up an hour, from 2 p.m. ET to 1 p.m., in an effort to beat anticipated afternoon/evening precipitation. But on Sunday, morning rain stuck around until the afternoon, resulting in a 4:24 p.m. green flag.

Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott were stage winners in the first half of the race, with Truex taking the Stage 1 win on Lap 75 and Elliott running up front when the second stage ended 75 laps later, marking his first stage win of the 2018 season. Both drivers also finished in the top-five, with Truex taking fourth and Elliott fifth.

Truex and Elliott run up front early

Martin Truex Jr. (78) and Chase Elliott (9) run up front in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 22, 2018., Getty Images for NASCAR

“I was shocked, to be honest with you, that we ran even that good,” Elliott said. “Our whole NAPA group did a great job overnight. I really have no idea where that came from. I hope it wasn’t dumb luck. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling,  because it’s really nice to be able to go up there and lead some laps. I know it wasn’t the right part of the race, but still, leading laps for us is big compared to what we’ve been doing. I’m proud of the effort. I appreciate everybody’s effort back at Hendrick and the chassis shop and engine shop and Chevrolet and all the folks that are working hard to try to get better. We took a step in the right direction.”

With the yellow flag having already waved twice before the competition caution, pit strategies varied early and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. stayed out to inherit the lead. Truex was first out of the pits but restarted eighth behind drivers who stayed out. Previous race leader Kurt Busch also lost several additional positions on pit road.

After Stenhouse led 11 laps, Truex took his first lead on Lap 49.

Truex continued up front through the remainder of Stage 1 and into the second stage before Elliott got by him to take the lead on Lap 131 and lead the final 19 laps of stage 2. After losing the lead, Truex lost second to Busch.

Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Results:

1. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Ford

2. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota

3. Aric Almirola, No. 10 Ford

4. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Toyota

5. Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet

6. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet

7. Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford

8. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Ford

9. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford

10. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet

11. Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet

12. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet

13. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota

14. William Byron, No. 24 Chevrolet

15. Matt Kenseth, No. 6 Ford

16. Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota

17. Paul Menard, No. 21 Ford

18. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet

19. Kasey Kahne, No. 95 Chevrolet

20. Chris Buescher, No. 37 Chevrolet

21. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet

22. Daniel Suarez, No. 19 Toyota

23. Ty Dillon, No. 13 Chevrolet

24. Darrell Wallace Jr., No. 43 Chevrolet

25. Ross Chastain, No. 15 Chevrolet

26. Michael McDowell, No. 34 Ford

27. Corey LaJoie, No. 72 Chevrolet

28. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 32 Ford

29. David Ragan, No. 38 Ford

30. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford

31. Kyle Weatherman, No. 99 Chevrolet

32. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford

33. Blake Jones, No. 23 Toyota

34. B.J. McLeod, No. 51 Chevrolet

35. Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Ford

36. A.J. Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet

37. Landon Cassill, No. 00 Chevrolet

UP NEXT: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway, affectionately referred to as the “Tricky Triangle,” in Long Pond, Pennsylvania on July 29. It’ll be the second of two yearly visits to the track. Martin Truex Jr. was victorious at Pocono in June. Kyle Busch is the defending winner of the July race there.