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Harvick dominates Michigan for seventh win of 2018

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Last week at Watkins Glen, Chase Elliott’s maiden victory on the road course interrupted the season of the Big 3.

But on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Kevin Harvick restored the status quo, winning for the seventh time this season and breaking a tie with third-place finisher Kyle Busch for most victories in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. 

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Harvick led 108 of the 200 laps in the Consumers Energy 400 and cruised to a 3.233-second win over runner-up Brad Keselowski, who took over second place when Austin Dillon slowed with a cut tire on the next-to-last lap. Dillon nevertheless held fourth place at the finish, one spot ahead of Ryan Blaney.

 The victory was Harvick’s second at the 2-mile track — the first having come in 2010 — and the 44th of his career, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott for 17th on a all-time win list. Harvick swept the first and second stages of the race and leap-frogged past Busch into the lead in playoff points. Harvick now has 40 to Busch’s 35.

 “The most important thing is winning races right now and getting all the points that you can get to position yourself well to get to Homestead,” Harvick said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do all year is win races. 

“That was our only goal. We didn’t want to learn anything. We don’t want to do anything different. We just want to go out, and we want to win.”

 Keselowski, who drove from his 18th-place starting position to the runner-up spot, was grateful to have a clean race.

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“It’s nice to be able to get the finish we deserved,” Keselowski said. “That’s important. It’s important to get what you have out of your car. Although we might not have race-winning speed, it’s important to execute. 

“So with that in mind, it’s good for everybody’s morale at Team Penske, and on the No. 2 team as well, but of course we want to break through and win as well. As I indicated, we not where we need to be to just win on speed against those guys week-in and week-out, so we’ve just got to find it. We’ve got to find that little bit of performance. It’s not a lot, but it’s just enough to keep us out of Victory Lane.” 

Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, pole winner Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano completed the top 10.

After the race, Harvick’s 6-year-old son, Keelan, ran across the track to collect the checkered flag. 

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“Keelan is saving me some work,” Harvick quipped. “Usually, when I get home, the next day we have to mock up a Victory Lane celebration. For him to be here and able to do that and be a part of NASCAR and bring your son to work and do all the things that we get to do with our kids, I have had him with me by myself the last three weeks and we have had a ball.

“I couldn’t be happier to be a dad and be a part of NASCAR where they let your family come to the race track and be a part of it.”

In the regular-season series standings, Kyle Busch maintained a 62-point lead over Harvick. Dillon scored his first top five since winning the season-opening Daytona 500.