• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Harvick goes back-to-back, holds Bell off at Richmond

ByBrenden Martin

Aug 14, 2022

Photo by Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 driver Kevin Harvick held off Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 driver Christopher Bell for his 60th career NASCAR Cup Series victory and his second-straight win this season. After not winning for 65 races before Michigan, Harvick goes back-to-back after winning at Michigan International Speedway last week.

The win ties Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 driver Kyle Busch for ninth on the all-time Cup Series wins list and at the top of the active driver list.

Harvick’s win in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway is his fourth career win at the 0.75-mile track and first since 2013.

“Like I said last week, the cars have been running good week in and week out,” Harvick said to NBC Sports’ Marty Snider after the race. “We have a lot better understanding of what’s going on with how we get adjusted on the car after the first run.”

Bell, on 12-lap fresher tires, was chasing down Harvick on the final run. He needed a few more laps to catch him but just ran out of time.

“I got held up a little bit there on the front side,” Bell said to NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman. “I guess when you’re splitting hairs like that, that probably cost me the race.”

Bell was gaining on Harvick quickly, and the 2014 Cup champion noticed.

“I know he was coming but I forgot to shift down the front straightaway the last time,” Harvick said. “ I was not paying attention and he got closer than he should have.”

Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 driver Chase Elliott did not clinch the regular season championship, finishing five spots in front of Team Penske No. 12 driver Ryan Blaney in fifth. Elliott leaves Richmond with a 116-point lead on Blaney, a loss of three from Michigan.

While Blaney did avoid the inevitable for at least one week by preventing Elliott from winning the regular season title, he also pulled away from Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Martin Truex Jr. for the final spot in the playoffs.

Truex Jr. won the head-to-battle with a seventh-place finish compared to Blaney’s 10th, but stage points for the No. 12 car added seven points to his gap over Truex Jr. to extend his lead to 26.

Trackhouse Racing No. 1 driver Ross Chastain led every lap to win Stage 1. He passed the pole sitter, Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 driver Kyle Larson, on the first lap on the outside. Chastain now has five stage wins this season and adds another playoff point to his tally.

The first stage saw just one caution on Lap 4 when Richard Childress Racing No. 8 driver Tyler Reddick spun, relegating him to a 31st-place finish.

Chastain led the field to start Stage 2. Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 driver Denny Hamlin gave him a huge push on the restart but went too hard and ran wide on the first turn.

Hamlin and Chastain have gone back and forth with each other this year going back to their spat at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Only a few laps after the restart, Team Penske No. 22 driver Joey Logano made a move on the outside to take the lead from Chastain on Lap 81.

Stage 2 ran more as was expected for the race with long runs and multiple green flag stops. There were no cautions in the second stage, but there sure were a handful of battles and issues for some drivers.

Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Cole Custer looked to have a grasp on a season-best race after a solid seventh-place start. Unfortunately for the third-year driver, Custer’s power steering failed, costing him potentially his first top-five finish this season. Instead, he wound up 26th.

Kyle Busch and 23XI Racing No. 45 driver Ty Gibbs, who made his fourth Cup Series start for a still-injured Kurt Busch, had an intense battle in the middle of the pack that saw Busch run up into the wall at one point.

Eventually, Busch got the upper hand on the outside where he ran much of the day while Gibbs suffered his first career DNF in the Cup Series due to an engine problem.

Differing strategies were shown during green flag stops in Stage 2. JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. elected to run long on older tires. When he finally decided to come in on Lap 156, Stenhouse Jr. abruptly aborted his pit entry after going too fast, plowing right into Truex Jr. on his way back up the track.

Truex Jr. suffered minimal damage. Stenhouse Jr. entered pit road on the next lap but still entered too fast, resulting in a penalty.

Logano led a race-high 222 laps in the No. 22 car, a career-best for him at Richmond. He took home Stage 2 to earn his third stage win this season and his 13th playoff point.

The third and final stage continued to chaos from Stage 2. Chastain spun Busch for the second caution for cause. The two cars had little damage, but enough to pit once again. The wreck also took PettyGMS Racing No. 43 driver Erik Jones out of the race with a broken toe link.

“We got Chastain’d,” Busch said to NBC Sports. “We were his victim this week.”

Busch finished ninth, breaking his career-long streak of eight races outside the top 10.

Logano stayed in the lead for the first part of Stage 3 before Harvick gradually chased him down on Lap 334. The two cars battled for a handful of laps, allowing Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing No. 17 driver Chris Buescher to gain on them and immediately come to pit road seeking an opportunity to cycle out up front after the final round of green flag stops.

Buescher cycled out in second behind Harvick but just didn’t have enough to catch him. Bell’s pit strategy gave him fresher tires later in the race by coming in a little after the rest of the field did.

Bell did catch Buescher with four laps to go and was blazing towards Harvick a second in front of him. Had Bell gotten a few more laps in the race, he would be standing on Victory Lane.

A few drivers officially locked themselves in the playoffs in the event the final two regular season winners bring about two new winners. On top of Harvick locking himself in with another win, Bell and Kyle Busch are in on points among single-race winners.

Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 driver Alex Bowman, Trackhouse Racing No. 99 driver Daniel Suárez, Team Penske No. 2 driver Austin Cindric and SHR No. 14 driver Chase Briscoe could still miss the playoffs under certain conditions.

Kurt Busch is now 64 points below Briscoe, leaving him as the first single-race winner out if two drivers ahead of him in points win the next two races. He has an injury waiver to be playoff eligible after missing the last four races in concussion protocol.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series will continue with the penultimate race of the regular season, the Go Bowling at The Glen at none other than Watkins Glen International in Upstate New York. The race is set to start at 3:00 p.m. ET with TV coverage on USA Network and the NBC Sports app. The race can also be listened to on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Race Results: Richmond Race Results

Points Standings: Richmond Points Standings

Owners Points: Richmond Owners Points

NOTE: Post-race inspection is complete in the Cup Series garage. There were no issues, confirming Kevin Harvick as the winner. The Nos. 17 & 23 will be taken back to R&D for further inspection.