One venue, two days, two races, two wins. That was Kevin Harvick’s weekend after capturing the NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, and completing the weekend sweep of the Cup Series doubleheader.
With Harvick’s victories, Ford took home the Michigan Heritage Trophy for 2020, symbolic of the top OEM at Michigan International Speedway. Today’s win was Ford’s 41st at MIS and the 53rd by Ford Motor Company (12 wins by Mercury). It also was Ford’s sixth straight win, their longest in the Irish Hills.
Harvick’s victory Sunday was somewhat reminiscent of his triumph on Saturday in the FireKeepers Casino 400. He led a total of 90 of the 156-lap race Sunday after being at the head of the pack for 92 laps Saturday. He won each of the first two stages Saturday and secured the second stage Sunday, giving him five stage wins on the year.
Harvick’s win was his 55th in the NASCAR Cup Series, as he surpassed Hall of Famer Lee Petty for 11th on the all-time list. In addition, Harvick became the first driver to win back-to-back races at the same track on consecutive days in the NASCAR Cup Series. The last driver to win Cup races on consecutive days was Hall of Famer Richard Petty in 1971 (July 14 & 15 at Islip and Saratoga).
Even with all of his success in his career and particularly in 2020 – a season in which he now owns a Cup Series-best six victories – Harvick deflects a good portion of the credit to his team.
“It drives you,” Harvick said of his No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang. “I think when you look at my team we’ve been together for going on seven years now and you look at the confidence everybody has in each other. The details of the race cars and the thought of everything that goes into everything that we do is untouchable. That’s what it takes are details to make these race cars go fast.”
Clint Bowyer led the first 43 laps of the race, including a win in Stage 1. After that however, Harvick would go on to lead 90 of the final 113 laps. Stewart-Haas racing teammate Aric Almirola challenged Harvick briefly, as he led nine laps before relinquishing the lead to Harvick, who finished it off by leading the way for the final 41 laps. Almirola finished sixth.
Denny Hamlin, one of three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers to finish among the top-4, looked as though he had a chance to overtake Harvick over the final several laps, but could just not make up ground, as he was edged out by .093 seconds.
“Just needed to maneuver a little bit better and I think that we could be a little better,” Hamlin said. “Overall, our car handled well. Just needed a little more speed there and a little bit more handling to pass. Obviously, I thought we were definitely the fastest car by running him (Kevin Harvick) down there.”
Martin Truex Jr. produced a third-place finish for the second straight day.
“We don’t do anything easy, that’s for sure,” Truex said. “We were awful at the start of the race. I don’t know, we didn’t make a lot of changes from yesterday. We tried to do different things to try to get better. We definitely were worse. Just have to grind them out, that’s what we do. It’s good to be grinding out top-three finishes, that’s what the Playoffs are all about. We need to get some more points before that starts.”
Sunday’s win was a little different for Harvick in that he secured the Michigan Heritage Trophy for Ford. He knew coming in that it was an extremely important piece of the weekend for his manufacturer.
“Well, when you start getting texts from Edsel Ford on how important the weekend is, you answer those,” Harvick said. “I’ve been around Ford for several years now and you understand the importance of winning at Michigan. The energy and effort that they not only put into our cars, but that they put into the engines at Roush Yates. This is the place – right behind Daytona – that everybody from Ford wants to win at.”
Kyle Busch (4th) and Joey Logano (5th) completed the top-5. For the second day in-a-row, Christopher Bell (17th) was the race’s highest finishing rookie.
There were five cautions for 24 laps in the race, and 10 lead changes among six drivers.