Kevin Harvick celebrates after climbing from his car at Michigan International Speedway Sunday. Harvick won the Consumers Energy 400. Eric Young/The SuperSpeedway
BROOKLYN, Mich. — It was a Kevin Harvick kind of day Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, as Harvick earned his seventh win of the season in the Consumers Energy 400.
Harvick led 108 of 200 laps and won both stages on his way to the victory. Martin Truex Jr. led the next highest number of laps with 25.
He said he has been enjoying the season so far and has been able to appreciate the success.
“I spent a lot of years not having the most fun and not having the most success,” Harvick said. “Over the past five years I have been able to win a lot of races and doing things on the racetrack. There has been an incredible amount of stuff and wins packed into five years now. For me, I’m just enjoying every moment because you never know when it’s going to go the other way.”
After the race, Harvick’s son, Keelan, met him at the track and got to ride in the passenger’s side of Harvick’s car on the victory lap.
Kevin Harvick looks over at his son, Keelan, who joined him in the post race press conference Sunday. Eric Young/The SuperSpeedway
“We got to celebrate together,” Harvick said. “It was pretty cool to look over there on your victory lap and see your 6-year-old on the passenger seat with you there.”
Harvick said Keelan has been with him the last three weeks, and the two had some father-son moments together. It wasn’t all smooth though.
“He did crash a golf cart into a pine tree,” Harvick said. “All we could see were the golfbags sticking out of a tree. We had to go and dig him out. So that was entertaining. We had some unapproved Mom moments this weekend with the golf cart crash and the quarter midget.”
“What other sport can you take your kids to work and be able to enjoy those things with them?” he said. “Share one of your coolest moments and looking over and the only person with you is your son. That’s pretty special.”
The win was Harvick’s 44th of his career, tying him at 17th all-time with Bill Elliott.
Brad Keselowski overcame a loose wheel earlier in the race to battle back to a second-place finish in his Penske Ford on his home track. Keselowski is yet to earn a Cup Series victory at Michigan, but he said he’s getting closer.
“We’ve done everything we can do here but win, at least on the Cup level,” he said. “We have that opportunity. We’ll see if it can develop into something. It hasn’t so far. I know in my heart that if we keep running like this it will happen.”
Keselowski said he was happy with a strong performance after struggling as of late.
“It was nice to just be able to have a clean race, or mostly clean — we did have one loose wheel — and be able to get the finish we deserve,” he said.
He said the Penske Fords have not caught up to the Big Three — he said he doesn’t pay attention to the Big Three by the way — but that isn’t an excuse for not winning.
“We may not have race-winning speed, but we still need to execute,” he said. “We’re not where we need to be to just win on pure speed against those guys week in and week out.”
“I think there were positives and negatives from today,” Keselowski said. “We have to try and make the most of the positives and learn from the negatives.”
Kyle Busch led 22 laps en route to his third-place finish Sunday. He said while Harvick was able to win by a large margin, he did have a fast car during the race.
“I was in front of him for like five laps,” Busch said. “I actually drove away from him for a couple laps there until that caution came out. It definitely seemed like whoever got out front could take off.”
Busch said he frequently struggles at Michigan, and it is still a nature of the repave at MIS — it was resurfaced before the 2012 season — that gives him trouble.
“I think mainly because it’s just so one-groovish,” he said. “I won the last race here on the old asphalt before they repaved it. I had one groove all to myself.”
He was asked when he thinks the track will begin to widen out again.
“I would have hoped that it would have been a little bit wider than it is now,” he said. “I don’t know. Best guess, 10 years.”
Austin Dillon took the lead on the final green flag pit stop, but wasn’t able to hold Harvick off. He followed for second until just two laps to go when he had a problem, costing him two spots for a fourth-place finish.
“I had an awful vibration there with two to go and it was like the tire was unraveling or the lugnuts were coming loose,” he said. “I just wanted to bring back a good finish. We really needed that.”
Rounding out the top five was Ryan Blaney.
“It was a good showing for us today,” Blaney said. “Really all weekend I thought we were pretty strong. There were a couple cars better than us all day and a couple that got better at the end. Second half of the race the track kind of changed and our car lost a little bit of speed but I am happy with a fifth after the last two weeks that have been a struggle for us. It is good to get back on the right track which is where we belong. Hopefully we can keep this going here for the next few weeks and then into the playoffs.”
The strangest incident of the day came on lap 134 when Ty Dillon hit a piece of debris on the backstretch and crashed hard in turn three. He said it was a battery or a piece of lead, and he couldn’t miss it because he was in a three-wide battle at the time.
“I was just hoping it was a glove or something that wouldn’t collect it,” Dillon said. “As soon as I hit, it was like hitting a wall and I had no control of the car. I just drove it straight at 218 mph into the wall, no brakes, no nothing. So hopefully NASCAR finds whose piece that was because that shouldn’t happen in our sport. There shouldn’t be batteries laying on our tracks. Not to tear down, but I know these people have to do a lot to make these cars come to the race track, but things like that can’t happen because it’s too dangerous at a place like this.”
There were eight cautions for 37 laps. The time of race was two hours, 50 minutes and 51 seconds. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next heads to Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.