All-Star Win to Harvick's 2018 Juggernaut

Kevin Harvick celebrates his second All-Star win

Kevin Harvick Wins All-Star
(CONCORD, NC – May 19, 2018 – RIS) Kevin Harvick avoided crashes, used the one-off rules package to his advantage and added a sixth race win to his total for 2018 and his second All-Star win. Harvick led fairly easily in the first stage of the race before dropping back to mid-pack, then again moved into the lead in the third stage and avoided the crash that took out Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and both Busch brothers when Martin Truex spun in the middle of the pack.

In the final stage Harvick had to fend off a challenge from Daniel Suarez heading to the finish but a shove from Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford helped him to a margin over Suarez that could not be overcome.

Following the Open, Chase Elliott was announced as the winner of the van vote to advance to the All-Star. Elliott finished in fifth, behind Harvick, Suarez, Logano and Hamlin.

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion | Finished 1st- VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW -- TAKE US THROUGH THE DECISION TO START ON THE OUTSIDE LANE AND THE DRIVE TO THE WIN.“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 back stretch 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. It was so fast”

WHAT ARE YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS OF THE PACKAGE?“A lot of pushing and shoving. It reminded me a lot of IROC racing back in the day. We will see what everybody thinks and go from there.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion | Finished 3rd“We wanted to be up in the lead and I thought we were in the best spot. We put tires on and the cars ahead of us didn’t have as good of tires as us. We restarted fifth and the bottom is just rough down there. We were able to push ahead and the car in front of me got pushed back and the bottom lane fell apart. I lost like five spots at least and started making them back up and got tangled up and put in the wall and got back and thought I had a decent shot there at the end hooking up with Kevin. Kevin and I always end up together at super speedway races and we did again tonight which is kind of funny. I didn’t have quite a good enough run to go three-wide and if I did the bottom lane would have gone by both of us and there would have been no gain for any of us. We wouldn’t have won anyway. My only shot was to push him ahead and try to clear the 19 which I couldn't. If I was able to clear the 19 car I might have been able to get a run to try to pass the 4 at the end but just ran out of time. It was a hard fought night, you can tell by the right side of my car that it was hard fought. It was crazy. It is fun to race with nothing to lose. That is the best part of All-Star races. Everyone goes out there and says ‘screw it’ and all you see is money signs at the end of this race. We did not get the big bag so that kind of stinks.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion | Finished 11th“We weren’t very good tonight. We were slow. The car drove about the same with this package as it did with the other package and everybody else was just a lot faster. It was a bummer we couldn’t take that front row start and do something with it. We were kind of a moving road block out there.”

DID IT FEEL DIFFERENT TONIGHT THAN USUAL CHARLOTTE? “Yeah, it was way different. I didn’t like it. I am sure NASCAR liked it and the fans probably enjoyed it. We were all close. I am sure I would have liked it if our car drove a lot better too. It is hard to tell.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion | Finished 20th (Multi-car incident on lap 74) WHAT HAPPENED? “We stayed out on two tires and were able to hold up close to the front. Track position is super important. We got a great restart and we were passing cars. I just barely didn’t get through there. The 78 got me and tore the radiator out of the Discount Tire Ford. We will go on to normal racing next week for the 600.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE RACING PACKAGE?“You definitely seem to draft more which has its highs and lows. Track position, power and drag is super important. Give us a few weeks to work on the race cars with a package like this and I am sure we can mess it up.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joes Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 2ndYou restarted on the front row with two laps to go, what was the difference in those final two laps?
“I felt like we had a car actually capable to win the race. We were very strong, competitive. For whatever reason restarts, my car was taking like one lap to go and those guys, when two Fords were connected, they were pretty strong. We just – I needed a little bit more right there. The 11 (Denny Hamlin) got disconnected with myself a little bit. I tried to side draft the 4 (Kevin Harvick), but it was just tough. After that it was pretty much game over because I started racing the 22 (Joey Logano) instead of the 4, but proud of my guys. We’ve been racing really in the All-Star twice already, two times, so that’s not bad. It hurts to be close and to not get it.”

Talk about racing for the win in the final two laps. “It was close. The 11 (Denny Hamlin) was doing a very good job as much as he could to push me. For whatever reason he just disconnected a little bit and I couldn’t keep the run and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the 22 (Joey Logano), they stayed connected for the entire corner and after that I knew it was gonna be tough. After that, I started just playing defense. I tried to slow them down and I just didn’t do a good job or I just couldn’t do it enough.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 4th- Where were you struggling during the race and how was your car? “I think in general our cars were just too slow to be up front. Once we did get the lead, it was complete defense mode. It looked like when the 18 (Kyle Busch) and the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) were up front as well, it was just constant defense where when the 4 (Kevin Harvick) got up front, he could just kind of run his line. Hard to overcome that seven tenths that we were off from speed, especially in a drafting type race. Still, we did a good job there. Tried to get the 19 (Daniel Suarez) free of the 4 there on the bottom, I just came off his bumper there just slightly there and he wasn’t able to get us free of the 4.”

Did this package feel like a superspeedway race or an intermediate track type of race? “I thought it was more similar to a normal open race – mile-and-a-half, but you had to be smart like you would at a superspeedway. It was a mix of the both and obviously I thought it was a great show and I thought the racing was fun to watch and be a part of. We’ll see where it takes us in the future.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing, cont.

Is this a package that could work on select race tracks? “I think every track has a different characteristics and different things that can work for it. Obviously you don’t want to put restrictor plates on anything that we already – a mile or less – that would just really kill the racing. I think there could be a fight there with the car owners wanting to have simpler rules for all the race tracks. It’s tough to say, obviously we want the best race for the fans and that’s the most important thing. Whatever they want us to do, we’ll do.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 5-Hour Energy/Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing - Finishing Position: 17th- What happened to take you out of the race? “Yeah, just not a whole lot of room going into (turn) three. You know we were four-wide on the restart there and just trying to get into three without getting crashed. I knew if we had a shot with 10 to go, we had a shot to win that thing and if I’d have lifted there, we would have never won it. That’s the way it works.”

What did you think of this race package tonight and what happened?
“This was the first time running this package and we had to gamble a little bit. We had to roll the dice a little bit and we were off when we came in. Had a lot to learn today and we used it well. The guys did a really good job with our car – pit stops were really good tonight again. We had a lot to be proud of, just sucks that we couldn’t finish it off. We had a really strong race car and felt like we maybe had a shot to win it, just four wide going into three there we all just ran out of room. The 17 (Ricky Stenhouse), I had him squeezed down so low, I just don’t know that he could hold it down there. I was trying to keep the 14 (Clint Bowyer) to my outside and just one those deals at the end of the race. I knew we had to get through that green-white-checkered to have a shot to win, but I also knew if I lifted there I would have been the only one that lifted and the others would have went on and passed me and we wouldn’t’ have won this thing, I hate it for everybody – all our guys and everybody back in Denver, thanks for a great race car – 5-hour Energy, Bass Pro and everybody that supports us. We put on a hell of a show at least while it lasted, that’s all I can say.”

What happened to take you out of the race? “Yeah, just not a whole lot of room going into (turn) three. You know we were four-wide on the restart there and just trying to get into three without getting crashed. I knew if we had a shot with 10 to go, we had a shot to win that thing and if I’d have lifted there, we would have never won it. That’s the way it works.”

CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 SUNENERGY 1 CAMARO ZL1 – Finished 5th- NASCAR THREW A MIXED PACKAGE AT YOU.  WHAT WAS YOUR TAKE AWAY?  HOW FUN WAS THE RACING?  “Yeah, I actually had some fun really.  It was different for sure, but it wasn’t all bad, I don’t guess. Obviously, there was way more potential to crash and what not, which is I guess good and bad depending upon who you are. If you are sitting at home and watching it was probably fun because we are all close.  If we see this package more, I’m sure you will see some more torn up cars too.  And I’m sure the teams will get better at building and preparing for it too, but proud of our night.   To be able to come from last to fifth and I get the fan vote and end up coming home with a top five wasn’t all bad.”

RACING AT A 1.5-MILE, BUT THEN PEOPLE COMPARED IT TO A TALLADEGA OR DAYTONA BECAUSE THERE WAS A LITTLE BIT OF DRAFT WORK, RESTRICTOR PLATES, WHERE ON THE SPECTRUM WOULD YOU PUT IT?  “I would probably rank it closer to speedway racing. I mean, your car still had to drive good and if you were kind of back in the pack you could use the draft to make yourself look better.  I think the tell-tale would have been who got out front and I think that was kind of why Kevin (Harvick) ended up working his way to the front and once he got there he was hard to pass because I think his pace was pretty good. I would have loved to have gotten up there and seen what our pace would have been like, but it was a fun race.  I had fun.  I hope everybody enjoyed it and we will go on down the road.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S FOR PROS CAMARO ZL1 – Finished 6thTHOUGHTS ON TONIGHT’S RACE:  “Yeah, I mean it’s funny how there ends up being a sweet spot. It doesn’t matter if it’s a restricted motor or not.  The outside lane was really the place to be to keep the momentum up. Depending on the restart you had and the lane you are in and how to time a pass, I spent plenty of time kind of coming through the field. I really couldn’t get passed second or third.  The times I tried to make a pass on the leader I would get pinned on the bottom and go to the back and have to start all over again.
“I had a good time out there though. There was a lot of hard racing.  Obviously, I wish we had won, but we will come back next week to a normal program and go for it there.”

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CAMARO ZL1 – Finished 7thTALK ABOUT YOUR RACE OVERALL.  YOU WERE MAKING SOME IMPRESSIVE MOVES OUT THERE: “Yeah, I was trying to. It was just tough.  I felt like I could get to around second or third, just getting to the lead was tough.  I never really got to lead. The times I would get to lead they would get a run on me and pass me right back.  We just didn’t have the speed the Toyota’s had.  I thought the Toyota’s were super-fast and then obviously the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) I mean he won, but the No. 78 was ridiculous.  But, yeah it was a pretty fun race.”

OVERALL YOU LIKE THIS PACKAGE? “I don’t want to race it every week, but every now and then is okay.”

ON THE CONTACT WITH THE NO. 22: “I tried to be as much in the gas as I could and I got really tight.  I tried to bail and I think he tried to leave me as much room as he could and he got into the wall, got mad at me and retaliated.  It is what it is. Neither of us were going to win, but it’s whatever.”

SO, YOU THINK THE CONTACT WAS INTENTIONAL? MOST GUYS WOULD BE MAD, BUT YOU DON’T SEEM TO BE: “Yeah, I mean I put myself in that spot.  He maybe over exaggerated a little bit, but yeah, I put myself in that spot.”

AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KROGER CLICKLIST CAMARO ZL1 – Finished 8thON HIS RACE: “Solid.  The first stage was pretty awesome to go 18th to 4th in a couple of laps.  The car handled really good. I just got a little bit tight there with the track getting going into the night.  We were a little bit draggier down the straightaway so I had to keep the momentum up that second stage.  I just got too close to the No. 78 and it snapped loose and got some body damage.  The guys did a good job to fix it.  Kind of salvaged the third session there.  I thought if we could have got back up there we could have maybe had a chance to fight inside the top three or top four again. I cost us a little bit there, but I was getting after it.  It was a fun night.  Really competitive and proud of the guys.”

ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1 – Involved in an on-track incident on lap 68 (Finished 21st) - ARE YOU OKAY AND WHAT HAPPENED?  “Yeah, just got loose. We had been really tight all night.  I knocked the nose off of it early.  We got slid and I wasn’t happy about it and instead of checking up, I didn’t lift.  I probably should have lifted because it hurt me more than the guy that ran us like that.  I’m just frustrated.  I feel like these guys have taken advantage of me quite a bit this year and I’m over lifting for guys.  I’m not going to go out of my way to slow myself down to help somebody else out. They would race me the same way. I’m just kind of over it, but as far the crash, I just got loose and it stepped out. I saved it, it stepped out again and I couldn’t save it.  Really frustrating.  I hate it for my guys, it’s my fault that we were in the situation further back than we should have been. I should have just been more patient and not knocked the nose off of it early.”

Fin, St, Driver, Car, Laps, Laps Led, Status
1) 4, Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford, 93, 36, Running
2) 19, Daniel Suarez, No. 19 Arris Toyota, 93, 0, Running
3) 10, Joey Logano, No. 22 Pennzoil Ford, 93, 0, Running
4) 14, Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Toyota, 93, 7, Running
5) 21, Chase Elliott, No. 9 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet, 93, 0, Running
6) 11, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's For Pros Chevrolet, 93, 0, Running
7) 16, Kyle Larson, No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, 93, 6, Running
8) 20, AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet, 93, 0, Running
9) 7, Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M's Red Nose Day Toyota, 93, 19, Running
10) 17, Kasey Kahne, No. 95 Dumont Jets Chevrolet, 93, 0, Running
11) 2, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Fastenal Ford, 93, 5, Running
12) 9, Austin Dillon, No. 3 Dow Chevrolet, 93, 0, Running
13) 12, Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, 93, 0, Running
14) 1, Matt Kenseth, No. 6 #Doyouknowjack Ford, 93, 0, Running
15) 6, Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Hawk/Carlisle Ford, 93, 0, Running
16) 13, Ryan Newman, No. 31 Caterpillar / Grainger Chevrolet, 93, 0, Running
17) 5, Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 5-Hour Energy / Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 75, 17, Accident
18) 15, Kurt Busch, No. 41 Monster Energy Ford, 74, 0, Accident
19) 3, Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Fan Club Ford, 74, 0, Accident
20) 8, Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford, 74, 3, Accident
21) 18, Alex Bowman, No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet, 68, 0, Accident

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2018, Issue 5, Posted 11:52 PM, 05.19.2018