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Kevin Harvick says this was the night his team needed with Talaldega looming and after coming so close to a win earlier in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Ganassi drivers play Chase spoilers among top 10 RELATED: Full results " Updated standings CONCORD, N.C. -- The Closer finally closed the deal, and the door swung almost shut on Dale Earnhardt Jr ., six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and 2012 champion Brad Keselowski . With the dominant car in Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , Kevin Harvick led 162 laps and survived a wild two-lap dash to the finish after the final caution en route to his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season and a free pass into the Eliminator Round of the Chase. In a race that ended with battered cars, bruised egos, boiling tempers and physical confrontations in the garage, Harvick pulled away after a restart on Lap 333 of 334 and beat Jeff Gordon to the finish line by .572 seconds. Jamie McMurray ran third, followed by Joey Logano and polesitter Kyle Busch . "I won't be anorexic and throwing up all week," Harvick quipped, knowing he won't need to avoid the inevitable major wrecks in the Oct. 19 race at Talladega Superspeedway to advance to the next round of the Chase. "This was the night that we needed to win. I don't want to go to Talladega next week." Nicknamed "The Closer," Harvick had failed to win the last five races in which he had led the most laps, but his victory on Saturday night -- his third at Charlotte and the 26th of his career -- was an emphatic rebuke to the ill fortune that had kept him out of Victory Lane since April. For Keselowski, Johnson and Earnhardt, it was a night of continuing disappointment -- and in Keselowski's case, a night of battling that continued onto pit road and into the garage after the race. Keselowski and Johnson got shuffled back to their finishing positions of 16th and 17th, respectively, on the restart with two laps left after a caution for Brian Vickers ' blown engine on Lap 327. After the race, Keselowski and ninth-place finisher Denny Hamlin traded insults on pit road, as NASCAR officials and their crews kept them apart in the wake of a late race incident between their two cars. Keselowski clipped Hamlin's rear bumper on the cool-down lap, then hit Kenseth's Toyota with his Ford on pit road after the race. After sustaining collateral damage on pit road during the melee, Tony Stewart backed into Keselowski's Ford, crumpling the nose of the car. Keselowski insisted it was Kenseth's car and not his No. 2 Ford that bumped Stewart's Chevy. "I rubbed into the No. 20 (Kenseth), and I think he gassed up and ran into Tony, and I don't think Tony knew what was going on," Keselowski said. "He's upset, and he has every right to be. His car was tore up. There was a whole lot of other stuff going on. I'm sure when he sees the whole situation, he'll understand." Kenseth, whose No. 20 Toyota had been damaged by contact from Keselowski's car on a restart with 63 laps left, jumped Keselowski as he was walking between haulers in the garage, and the drivers scuffled before being separated. "I had my HANS (head and neck restraint) off and my seat belts off and everything," Kenseth said of the hit from Keselowski on pit road. "He clobbered me at 50 (mph). And the access we have around here… the race is over, trying to come back to pit road... "If you want to talk about it as a man, do that. But to try and wreck someone on the race track, come down pit road with other cars and people standing around with seat belts off and drive in the side of me -- it's inexcusable. There is no excuse for that. He's a champion. He's supposed to know better than that." Hamlin also had some harsh words for the 2012 champion. "There's a corner there, so you have to back off, and he just plowed into us," Hamlin said. "He's just out of control. He's desperate, obviously, and it's either four or five of us are wrong or he's wrong, because he's pissed off everyone. Just disappointing -- but we're trying to get in this deal. We're sitting in a decent spot, but we've lost six spots or so with the last restart when he ran into us and knocked us up the track. "That was unfortunate. Matt (Kenseth) was nearly out of his car and he just plowed into Matt and then ran into Tony (Stewart) and then went in through the garage and cleared out transmissions and did burnouts in the garage." Both Johnson and Keselowski head to Talladega on Oct. 19 in all probability needing a victory to advance to avoid elimination from the Chase. The same goes for Earnhardt, whose shifter broke early in the race and relegated the driver of the No. 88 to a 20th-place finish, one lap down. Rookie Kyle Larson ran sixth, followed by Chase drivers Ryan Newman , Carl Edwards , Hamlin and Kasey Kahne . With the cut from 12 to eight Chase drivers looming at Talladega, Kenseth, Keselowski, Johnson and Earnhardt are the four drivers currently in positions 9 through 12 in the standings. Note: Keselowski and Jesse Sanders, a member of the Kenseth's crew, were called to the NASCAR transporter after the race. Kenseth's crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, also went to the hauler of his own volition in support of his crewman. Afterwards Keselowski posted the following on his Twitter account: Rough night. Understand a lot of folks may not understand everything that happened and that's ok. I'm not perfect but also not the only one. — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) October 12, 2014 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Kevin Harvick holds off Jeff Gordon and the rest of the field for his third victory of the 2014 season locking himself into the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Kevin Harvick says he knew the bad luck would end for his team eventually and now they can rest easy as they head to Talladega locked into the next round of the Chase.
Stewart-Haas Racing driver picks up eighth pole of season RELATED: Get the full race lineup KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kevin Harvick feels his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet can beat every other car on the track, and on Friday he did. For the eighth time this season. After destroying his own track record in the second round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series knockout qualifying, Harvick sped around 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway in 27.235 seconds (197.621 mph) in the final session to win the pole for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET on ESPN) and affirm his status as the speed car in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Coors Light Pole Award was Harvick's third straight at Kansas, his eighth of the season and the 14th of his career. Harvick's money lap was only slightly slower than the 197.773 mph he ran in posting the top speed in the second round, a lap that blew away the previous track record of 194.658 mph he set on May 9. Non-Chaser Brian Vickers qualified second at 196.307 mph for the first race in the Contender Round of the Chase. Aric Almirola (196.150 mph), eliminated from the Chase last week at Dover, claimed the third starting spot. Chase drivers occupied the next five spots on the grid: Joey Logano , Jeff Gordon , Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr . Though Harvick now has eight poles, he has but two victories this year, and he hasn't won a Sprint Cup race since April at Darlington. "For whatever reason this (track) fits everything I have going on with my driving style," Harvick said. "In the end, it's about having fast cars. Obviously, last year we had a fast car, and this year we've had a fast car as well. I have to thank everyone on the Budweiser team for staying focused, continuing to build faster race cars and doing everything we need to do -- that we can control. "The cars are fast, we're qualifying well. The pit stops are good. The cars are reliable. Everything is going good. We just need the good luck to go with it. It's like I keep telling these guys, everything will come full circle, and hopefully it does it at the right time this year. ... With a little bit of good luck, I just feel we can beat every car on the race track on any given week at any style race track, and that's a really positive, good feeling to have." Gordon, last week's winner at Dover, felt he got all he could out of his lap (196.050 mph) but was no match for Harvick . "I'm happy with where we ended up," Gordon said. "I feel like that's about where we were. Kevin was in another league." In sharp contrast to Harvick's flawless qualifying performance, six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson had more than his share of issues. Trying to improve on a lackluster first lap, Johnson spun during his second attempt in the first round and will start 32nd on Sunday. Other Chase drivers qualified as follows: Kasey Kahne , 10th; Carl Edwards , 12th; Ryan Newman , 17th; Denny Hamlin , 25th; and Matt Kenseth , 27th. The Cup cars are back on track Saturday with a pair of practices that run from 11-11:50 a.m. ET (FS1) and 2-2:50 p.m. ET (FS2). FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Ditech Mortgage Corp to serve as primary sponsor for two races RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota One of Kevin Harvick 's sponsors is expanding their relationship with the driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing . Ditech Mortgage Corp has been an associate sponsor for Harvick and the No. 4 team for the past month and on Monday, it was announced that ditech will expand its partnership to serving as the primary sponsor for two races in the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season. The specific races for the primary sponsorship are not yet known, according to a team release. The announcement and unveiling of what the car would look like was made on FOX Sports 1's "RaceHub" program . "We're very proud to be able to deliver for ditech in such a short of period of time," Harvick said in a release. "We're here to win -- for us, for ditech and for ditech's customers -- and come next year, we'll have two opportunities to do it in a blue No. 4 ditech Chevy." ditech is one of the mortgage industry's best-known brands and is headquarted in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. "We are thrilled to expand our sponsorship with Kevin for two primary races in 2015," ditech Chief Marketing Officer Rich Smith said in a release. "It's well known that NASCAR fans are steadfast in their support of team sponsors, and the surge in interest and awareness of the ditech brand is proof of that loyalty. Kevin continues to be a top performer in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and we look forward to seeing all that he and the No. 4 team can do this year and in the years to come." Harvick is one of 12 drivers still alive in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Following a 12th-place finish at Kansas Speedway in the Hollywood Casino 400 , he is sixth in the standings with two races to go in the Contender Round. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Kevin Harvick wins his third straight pole at Kansas Speedway prior to the Hollywood Casino 400, his eighth of the 2014 season.