Published January 13, 2015
Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Harvick survived a season-high 15 cautions and held off Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon in the closing laps to win the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway -- the fourth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Sunday's 400-mile event at this 1.5-mile racetrack ended up being a wreck- fest, featuring numerous accidents and spins. With this being the third time the Sprint Cup Series has run here since the track was repaved during the middle of the 2012 season, Goodyear used a new multi-zone tread tire for this race.
"It was an interesting weekend to say the least," Harvick said. "Obviously, everybody was battling the tires and the track, and I think it was like driving on a razor blade."
The accidents began on the opening lap when Danica Patrick got loose and hit the wall in turn 1. David Reutimann and Cole Whitt also spun around and made contact with the wall at the same time.
Harvick started on the pole for the first time in seven years (254 races ago) after winning Friday's qualifying. He led a race-high 138 laps. Harvick grabbed the top spot for good when he passed Jeff Burton, his Richard Childress Racing teammate, after a restart with 36 laps to go.
The 15th caution occurred when Brian Vickers lost control and crashed hard into the wall. After the final restart with 19 laps remaining, Harvick pulled away from Busch and Gordon. He beat Busch to the finish line by 1.14 seconds for his third victory of the season and the 22nd of his Sprint Cup career.
With the win, Harvick moved to within 25 points of leader Matt Kenseth, who finished 11th.
"To sit on the pole and win the race is obviously a great weekend, and controlling our own destiny by doing that, putting ourselves closer to where we need to be with the championship race," Harvick said. "We'll just keep having fun and keep doing what we're doing."
The next Chase race is Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Harvick won in May. This is Harvick's last year with Richard Childress Racing before he moves over to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season.
Busch finished second, while Gordon took the third spot. Both drivers are in the Chase. Joey Logano and Carl Edwards, also a title contender, rounded out the top-five.
Kenseth dealt with a loose car throughout the race and received a penalty for speeding on pit road just past the halfway point. He had won the past two Sprint Cup events here.
"That's the worst conditions I've raced in I don't know how long, probably since they repaved Charlotte and had that hard tire," Kenseth said. "It was just a tough day. We had to battle back all day. The car was just so loose, and I would get behind on restarts. It was a good comeback, but 11th isn't what we need to be doing every week. It could have been worse."
Jimmie Johnson finished sixth and trimmed Kenseth's lead from eight points to just three. Johnson experienced engine problems during the last two laps. He won last weekend's race at Dover.
"What a day," Johnson said. "We had so many things happen to us and still salvaged a very strong sixth-place finish. I really feel like we had the fastest car today, but just couldn't get there with issues and track position and cautions at weird times.
"The restarts were kind of an issue, and there was a lot of craziness. And then coming with two to go, we had something go wrong with either the ignition or the engine. I had to give up a spot and limped it home."
Kyle Busch dropped from third to fifth in points (-35) after he crashed late in the race. Busch ended up finishing 34th, as he continued to struggle at Kansas. He had to start the race from the rear of the field in a backup car after wrecking his primary vehicle in Saturday's practice. His elder brother, Kurt, also wrecked in practice and had to use a backup car.
"We'll just try to get back in it," Kyle Busch said of the Chase points battle. "We'll try to work hard and see what falls our way, and if it doesn't happen, then it doesn't happen."
Gordon moved up to fourth in points (-32).
Paul Menard finished seventh, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola.