Harvick Wins Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Drama reigned Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway as Kevin Harvick survived a slew of late-race action to win the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, while the post-race fireworks were almost as exciting as the finish.
After a late-race caution, Harvick started on the outside lane for a green-white-checkered finish, darting to the front and holding on as Jeff Gordon challenged. It was Harvick's third victory at Charlotte and third of the season, clinching him a spot in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
"We have good cars but things just haven't gone our way," said Harvick. "We tested here because we knew Kansas and Charlotte played to our strengths. It's nice to know that you are going to the next round."
Gordon finished second, while Jamie McMurray finished a strong night in third.
Even before Harvick was out of the car in Victory Circle, though, the fireworks were going off in the garage, as Brad Keselowski was confronted by both Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin for his on-track antics. Kenseth, angered after being forced into the wall by Keselowski late in the race as well as bumped on pit road post-race, physically confronted Keselowski in the garage.
"When you see Matt Kenseth mad enough to fight, you know this is intense, because that's way out of character for him," Harvick said. "Every moment matters in this Chase. I didn't see what happened with the 11 and the 2, but I saw the 2 hang a right and just stuff the 20 in the fence. And (Kenseth) knew that might have been it for him in the Chase."
Keselowski defended his behavior, saying, "The 20 car (Kenseth) and the 11 (Hamlin) car both hit me under yellow and once the race was over, I hit them back, and they couldn't take it."
Kenseth didn't accept that explanation. He was infuriated by the fact that Keselowski hit him on pit road after he'd already taken off his safety belts, creating what he considered to be an extremely unsafe situation.
"If he wants to come and talk about it like a man then go do that, but to try to wreck somebody on the race track and to come down pit road with other cars and people standing around with my seatbelts off and drive into the side of me is just inexcusable," Kenseth said. "There is no excuse for that. He's a champion, and he's supposed to know better than that."
KEVIN HARVICK (WINNER , NO. 4 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET) - "Everybody on our team has just continued build good race cars, and we have had race cars to do the things that we need to do. Things haven't gone our way. This is a night we needed. We came here and tested. We knew this would be the hardest round to contend with. We want to try and control the things we can control. Kansas and Charlotte played into our strengths to get into the next round."
JEFF GORDON (SECOND PLACE, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET) - "Kevin (Harvick) was tough. He was the car to beat. We had a great start to the race. I was pretty happy with my car early. The track conditions were changing so we tried to make some adjustments. We stuck with it. Finally there at the end, we got out of cycle with some of the two-tire versus four-tire stops. We were able to drive back up to second. Just couldn't get close enough to (Harvick). We had a strong finish there to come back to second. We're proud of that."
JAMIE MCMURRAY (THIRD PLACE, NO. 1 MCDONALDS MONOPOLY CHEVROLET) - "It was a really good night for our whole group. I got up to second place at one point and looked up and Kyle (Larson) was catching me. We certainly went through a couple of tough years at our group at Chip Ganassi Racing. It is so great right now to have two cars running that well. This is a big weekend for all of the race teams."