Podcast #122 — Harvick wins at Michigan, plus a Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff Preview

Recap: Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway

  • Kevin Harvick gets the win
    • Harvick passed Joey Logano with 18 to go to take the lead and would hang on to win his second Cup Series race of the season and his second August race in a row at Michigan. 
    • Harvick was asked postrace about his strategy on the final restart with 48 laps to go. 
      • Audio
    • Harvick was able to overcome a flat tire earlier in the race. He talked about that after the race.
      • Audio
    • Finally, Harvick involved his son, Keelin, in the postrace celebration again, letting Keelin ride in the passenger side of the car during his burnouts. I got a chance to ask him about Keelin’s racing future in the press conference. 
      • Audio
  • Denny Hamlin came home second after several driver had to pit for fuel late in the race. He was asked if there was anything he could have done at the end to catch Harvick for the win. 
    • Audio
  • Kyle Larson said he was surprised to finish third. He was asked about his strategy the last run of the race. 
    • Audio
  • Martin Truex Jr. made his 500th start Sunday with a special paint scheme and a tuxedo fire suit. He started with a handicap though, having to go to the back of the field at the start because his car failed prerace tech three times. He talked about that after the race. 
    • Audio

Playoff Bubble

  1. Kyle Larson +71
  2. Erik Jones +70
  3. Ryan Newman +16
  4. Clint Bowyer +6


  1. Daniel Suarez -6
  2. Jimmie Johnson -12
  3. Paul Menard -53
  4. Chris Buescher -73

News Items: 

Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff Preview

  1. Matt Crafton finished XXX. Clinches the final spot in the playoffs. Crafton was asked how he felt now that he was locked into the playoffs. 
    1. Audio (1:13)
  2. Sheldon Creed finished second in the race. He needed a win to make the playoffs. I got to talk to him about that following the race. 
    1. Audio 
  3. Brett Moffitt is the points leader after the reset and the defending champion after an unexpected win last year. I talked to him about his change in position this season as the playoffs begin. 
    1. Audio
  4. Johnny Sauter had trouble on pit road and finished XX Saturday. He’s qualified for the playoffs after a win XX, but has struggled at many points this season. I talked to him after the race. 
    1. Audio
  5. Ross Chastain was taken out early in the same pit road incident that involved Sauter. Despite not collecting points during the first part of the season, Chastain has qualified for the playoffs with a win and by finishing in the top 20 in points. I asked him after the race if he considers himself an underdog. 
    1. Audio  
  6. Grant Enfinger won the regular season championship, though did it without a win all season. He finished XX at Michigan. After the race, he was asked whether he thought he was a favorite to win the title. 
    1. Audio
  7. Ben Rhodes had a fast truck all day, but contact and a flat tire ended his chances at the win and a playoff berth, as he limped home to a XX place finish. Ben talked about it after the race. 
    1. Audio

Preview: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race from Bristol Motor Speedway

  • Picks
    • James: Jamie McMurray
    • Eric: Kyle Busch

Dark Horse

    • Eric: Matt Dibenedetto
    • James: Danica Patrick
  • Shoutouts if any

Fantasy League Update

Close show 

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Eric @TSuperspeedway on Twitter
  • Facebook: Facebook.com/TheSuperSpeedway

 For more of the podcast:


Harvick goes back to back with second August win at Michigan


Kevin Harvick celebrates in victory lane after winning the 2019 Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway Aug. 11, 2019. Photo by Ryan Collier/The SuperSpeedway

By Eric Young

BROOKLYN, Mich. — With others falling short on fuel, Kevin Harvick powered through the field Sunday to lead the last 18 laps and win his second August race at Michigan International Speedway. 

Harvick led a total of 22 laps on the day on the way to the win, passing Joey Logano to take the lead late in the race. Logano would have to pit for fuel with just a couple laps to go, winding up 17th. 

Harvick said on the last restart, he was focused on getting to Brad Keselowski first, and figured he could focus on Logano later in the run. 

“I felt like the most important pass was the 2,” Harvick said. “I felt like if he got around those guys before I did, he’d be more difficult to pass. I felt like the 22 fell off a lot as we got into the second half of a run compared to our car. He did a good job of putting himself in the right spot when I was behind him and eventually he kind of guessed wrong and I was able to get underneath him there coming through three and four and side draft and finish the pass.”

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“I needed to get a good restart,” Harvick continued. “It’s kind of short-term everything. You need to have short-term memory when you get done with something and move on, and on the restart it’s just one lap at a time and really one situation at a time to be able to try to put yourself in the best position that you can lap after lap.”

Harvick had a flat tire early in the race, and said he felt it at the right spot as we he was traveling down the backstretch.

“I knew that I needed to slow down and figure out what was going on,” Harvick said. “Obviously the tire was flat and I had a hard time getting slowed down enough to get it to the bottom of the racetrack. My main concern was just not grinding the splitter off. If the splitter was gone, we would have been done.”

The win was Harvick’s 47th career victory and his second victory in 2019. He has now won three races at MIS.

Denny Hamlin was strong all day, only leading six laps but running up front throughout the day. Hamlin finished second to Harvick as he tried to run the 4 car down over the last 20 18 laps. 

“He was pretty fast, but we certainly were a long-run car,” Hamlin said. “Every time the runs went long, we were extremely fast. You saw on the first run how fast we came through the field. Just needed the sun to be out more, honestly, to play in our favor. Once it got to be wide-open there at the very end and the track cooled off, the cars that had that raw speed in qualifying, it played into their hands.”

Hamlin said overall his day went pretty smoothly. 

“I didn’t have much of a challenge,” he said. “We stayed up front most of the day and led some laps and stayed in the top two or three for most of the day. Had a few restarts that were pretty critical that we were able to make some time on, but other than that we had a fast car.”

Kyle Larson was able to overcome an early pit road speeding penalty to come home third, which he said surprised him at the end of the race.

“I crossed the start-finish line, I wasn’t expecting to hear third,” Larson said. 

“We were just trying to pass those people in front of us and save enough fuel and thankfully I was able, I guess really, to be slow enough early in that run to save fuel without really even knowing I was or trying to,” Larson said. “Saved a little bit there at the end to get to the finish. The 19 and the 12 ran out in front of me and I got by them. I think I could have gotten by them regardless. It was a good finish.”

Larson said he was surprised about the speeding penalty. 

“I really was only worried about speeding leaving my stall,” he said. “When they said speeding segment one or whatever, I was surprised by that. I felt like I was very conservative throughout pit road.”

Martin Truex Jr. was also strong all day, leading 43 laps and winning the first stage in his 500th-career start, but fell to fourth at the finish. He said he needed one thing to get a better finish.

“More time,” he said. “Those last few restarts, we restarted far back and we were in the wrong lane every damn time. So just once we got strung out there, we were like 11th or so, just didn’t have enough time to get to the front.”

Truex had to start from the rear after failing pre-race tech multiple times, but was able to battle through the field to get the stage win. 

“It’s always easiest to come through the field that first run, and we certainly did a good job of that and we were able to drive up and take the lead,” Truex said. “Thought we had the best car at that point in the race, probably halfway through, and then we got too far back there on those last couple restarts and everybody has time to work on their cars all day long and it just gets harder and harder to pass, so that last run we were stuck for way too long in the wrong lane and we lost too many spots on the restarts, and we had to get them one at a time. Ran out of time there.”

Michigan’s own Keselowski led the most laps on the day, pacing the field for 66 of the 200 laps. But a flat tire and not enough fuel at the end cost him the win and relegated him to a 19th-place finish. 

“Man, I want this one so bad,” Keselowski said after the race. “We got that flat tire early on and we recovered and got up to third there in the late stages, and then we just ran out of gas. That is just the way it goes sometimes.”

Logano led 52 laps on the day, the second-most, but finished 17th when he had to pit late. 

“I needed more gas,” Logano said. “The Shell car isn’t supposed to run out of gas. The positive is we were way better than we were on Friday and Saturday. The negative is that we almost won the race but ended up finishing 17th. You win some, you lose some. If the caution comes out, we would have been in good shape, but it stayed green, and that’s it. That is the gamble. We took the gamble and it didn’t pay off. Pocono we played it the other way and the caution came out. That is two races, and we played it wrong both times.”

There were 19 lead changes Sunday between eight drivers and six cautions for 24 laps. The time of the race was two hours, 40 minutes and 59 seconds.

Rhodes, Gilliland and Burton on the outside looking in, hoping to win at Michigan to get into playoffs


By Eric Young

BROOKLYN, Mich. — With the top eight drivers making the playoffs at the completion of Saturday’s Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway, running fifth, sixth and seventh in points should make drivers feel pretty secure. 

But with the “win and you’re in” system in NASCAR, Ben Rhodes in fifth, Harrison Burton in sixth and Todd Gilliland in seventh are on the outside looking in. The three will miss the 2019 Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs unless one of them wins Saturday at MIS. But all three drivers said during media availability Friday that they like their chances. 

“We go to the racetrack every weekend thinking we will (win),” Rhodes said. “I’ve got total faith in our team. We had a really good meeting this week and spent probably more time than ever on this truck getting it ready for this weekend.”

Rhodes said even if the team misses the playoffs, it will remain in a good position. 

“If we weren’t able to get in, we would have the advantage all year long to collect wins off of fuel strategy, pit strategy, for the rest of the races,” Rhodes said. “We’d be at a big advantage, but we really don’t want that. We’d rather be in. We’re going to make the win happen one way or the other. I have nothing to lose tomorrow, so we can play the Kyle Busch strategy. When he comes into our series, he doesn’t have to worry about getting stage points. We’re not worried about any stage points tomorrow. The only thing we’re worried about is the checkered flag. And it’s pretty much a checkers or wreckers situation right now, and that’s the way my crew chief feels about it, my team feels about it. We all feel the same way about it, so we just have to make it happen.”

Rhodes has the most to lose by clinching a spot in the playoffs though, as doing so would knock teammate Matt Crafton out, and knock Grant Enfinger out of the lead in owners points. 

“The 98’s leading the points right now,” Rhodes said. “He’s doing so well. It’s frustrating to see how that’s playing out, certainly been kind of an interesting, weird year, from that aspect. A lot of guys have got in with those one good nights that they’ve had, and I don’t think they’ve really been performing that well since.”

Harrison Burton said his team has been taking every weekend racing for wins and nothing more, so this weekend won’t be much different for him. 

“That’s kind of our mission every week, which is fun, I guess,” he said. “Which is good because not much has changed and we can go into the weekend and have the same mindset that we normally do, and just have to come out and win and make it happen. There’s a few moments in your career where you have opportunities to make something cool like this happen, so hopefully as a team we can take advantage of that and go win one.”

He said he likes his chances at MIS. 

“Definitely,” he said. “This is a really racey racetrack. I think KBM has been really good here in the past. They ran really good here last year. I know Kyle has run really well when he’s run, and it’s been fun to watch him race here. This place puts on great races, especially in trucks. Everyone’s drafting and dicing it up, so as long as we’re in the mix toward the end, I think that we can make it happen.”

Todd Gilliland has one run one race in the truck at MIS, but he started second and finished fifth in the 2018 race. 

“I’m really excited,” Gilliland said. “If anything else, it’s an opportunity to put yourself in front of a big crowd here this weekend, do something that we all hope to do. Hopefully we can go out there and just have another strong run and be there at the end. I think that’s the thing. You basically position yourself the entire race just to have a shot at the end.”

Gilliland has been close, but has yet to get a win in the truck series, which has drawn criticism from his team owner, Kyle Busch. Gilliland said he feels like he’s close, and will eventually get over that hump. 

“I hope so,” he said. “I don’t know what it’s going to take to get over that, because I’ve said it before, I think once you get that first win, things come a lot easier, just because you’ve been there. Then you know what it takes.”

The Corrigan Oil 200 starts at 1 p.m. Saturday. 

Follow me on Twitter all weekend for updates from the track.