Kevin Harvick ended a 65-race drought and extended Ford’s winning streak to eight races at Michigan Speedway on Sunday.
Harvick, who had led just 13 laps in three races this season, took the point on Lap 163 of 200 and never looked back en route to his sixth career win at the two-mile track.
“Hell yeah, boys,” Harvick screamed over the radio. “How about that? Great job. Awesome!”
With three races remaining in the regular season, the 46-year-old driver became the 15th driver to win in 2022 en route to his 59th career win.
“Just good timing for sure,” Harvick said. “We've had several good runs the last few weeks, Loudon, and Pocono where the car ran good and just didn't have everything work out.
“Just really proud of everybody on our Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang. They've been digging along all year long, trying to make these Mustangs run faster. They haven't been great this year, but our guys have done a good job in trying to take what we have, maximize it and do the things that we need to do. Just really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing.”
Polesitter Bubba Wallace finished second. He led 33 laps and posted his fourth consecutive top-10 finish but was crushed contemplating what could have been.
“Replaying everything I could have done—should have taken the top on the restart,” Wallace said. “Thought I could hang with the 4 (Harvick) and just got to racing the 5 (Kyle Larson) and the 22 (Joey Logano). 22 did a great job of getting another Ford contract by helping another Ford win.
“All in all, an incredible weekend. Appreciate my team. Wish we could have gotten Toyota in victory lane. Wish we could have got Mcdonald's in victory lane again. She was fast all weekend. I will wear this one on my heart for a while. I failed everybody.”
Denny Hamlin had a rocketship. He led 33 laps and recovered from pit road penalties on the final stop to finish third.
“It’s just frustrating,” Hamlin said. “We’ve had really fast cars throughout the year and Dover comes to mind and Pocono comes to mind and this race comes to mind and a bunch of others. Just can’t get a W in the column. Hats off to Joe Gibbs Racing for giving me a car that fast and my team for setting it up really good.
“This is a piece of the puzzle you have to have to win races. Everyone has to do their job to the best of their ability and we just are lacking in one little section of our team that we just can’t hem up.”
Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman and Ty Gibbs rounded out the top 10.
The fireworks started early in the FireKeepers Casino 400 when J.J. Yeley lost control of the No. 15 Ford. Following the competition caution on Lap 25, Yeley got loose and slid through the field into Michael McDowell, who spun into Austin Cindric and Aric Almirola. Cindric tagged Harrison Burton while Almirola went sideways into the Turn 2 wall and clobbered Kyle Busch in the process.
“I don’t get it, man, I can’t buy a break right now,” said Busch who finished 36th. Busch, Cindric, Yeley, Almriola, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., all ended up in the garage following the incident.
Christopher Bell retained the lead and held on for the Stage 1 win on Lap 45 with Hamlin in tow. Corey LaJoie and Gibbs remained on the track during pit stops but Ross Chastain passed both drivers on the Lap 51 restart. Six laps later, Larson moved up to second. The No. 5 Hendrick team attempted to negotiate a draft with Chastain.
"Ross work together with anybody? Funny," Larson said. And he was right. It didn’t take long for Chastain to come across the nose of the Larson’s Chevy one too many times.
That enabled Bell and Hamlin to gang up on the Chevys and pass both drivers. Hamlin took the lead from Chastain on Lap 80. Fourteen laps later, he pitted and handed the point to Bell.
The fourth caution occurred on Lap 97 when Cole Custer experienced a flat left front tire and the No. 41 Ford caught fire on the backstretch. Tyler Reddick reported engine issues during the caution. Chase Elliott had an extended pit stop that would mire him in traffic for the remainder of the race. He finished 11th.
Hamlin cycled back to the lead on Lap 103 with Harvick alongside. Noah Gragson, who was running in the top 10, tagged the wall in Turn 2 on Lap 107 and triggered the fifth caution two laps later. Harvick, who needed the win, pitted while Hamlin stayed out—opting for stage points. Hamlin held serve on the Lap 113 restart and took the green and white checkered seven laps later.
Hamlin pitted along with Larson, who was busted for speeding and restarted 22nd. On Lap 127, Daniel Suarez restarted Stage 3 with the lead but Bell was challenging. Chastain made it a three-way battle by Lap 144—and Bell was pleading for help.
The last round of green-flag pit stops started on Lap 152. Five laps later, Suarez and Chastain came in from first and second, respectively. Hamlin inherited the lead. Harvick pitted on Lap 158 and had returned to the field when Chastain wiped out Bell in Turn 4 to ignite the seventh and final caution.
Wallace had the lead followed by Hamlin, Larson, Truex and Bowman. Harvick was 10th but assumed the lead when the drivers ahead of him pitted. Once again, the No. 11 pit crew proved problematic for Hamlin. Not only did the tire carrier lose the tire, but an additional crewman came over the wall to collect the wheel.
When Hamlin was told he had to drop to 22nd with 35 laps remaining, he replied, “Oh god, no!”
Wallace lined up next to Harvick, who had Larson in his rearview. Larson pushed the No. 4 Ford to the lead from the outside and Harvick took off in clean air.
With five laps remaining, Suarez cut a left-front tire, but the race continued under green. Harvick held a 4.4-second lead in the closing laps, but Wallace cut his advantage down to 2.9 seconds at the finish.
Harvick, who had not won since the Bristol Night Race in 2020, savored the victory with his four-year-old daughter Piper. They first collected the checkered flag, then shared a ride in the Busch Ford to Victory Lane.
“Everybody who doubted us doesn't know us,” Harvick said. “They, obviously, know we thrive in these types of situations. And a lot of things went our way today, which we haven't had, all year long, have things go our way and have things fall our way.
“And then, at the end, we pitted, didn't go a lap down, and the caution came out, got control of the race. That's the thing I struggled with the most today, was traffic and the restarts and just having to make up ground. Once I got clear track, that baby was hunting.”
Elliott retained the points lead by 119 over Blaney. Harvick’s win knocked Truex below the cutline. He trails Blaney by 19 points.