The 65-race winless streak has finally come to an end for Kevin Harvick. The Closer put on a show at Michigan International Speedway on August 7 and won his first race since Bristol Motor Speedway in September 2020.
Harvick entered the Cup Series race below the playoff cutline and in a must-win situation. He needed to overtake both Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr., which appeared to be a longshot. However, the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford took the lead from Bubba Wallace on the final restart, and he built up a lead of more than four seconds over his fellow competitors while leading the final 38 laps.
The emotions were evident as Harvick took some time to relish the moment. He drove the opposite direction down the track while waving to all of the fans that stayed at the track through a rain and lightning delay. He then did a massive burnout in front of the flag stand.
“Good timing for sure. We’ve had some good runs these past few weeks at Loudon and Pocono,” Harvick said after exiting his No. 4 Ford Mustang. He then talked about how the team has been consistent while fighting through some adversity and how the No. 4 wasn’t great in traffic. “Once I got a clear track, that baby was hunting,” Harvick added before heading to Victory Lane.
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The Site of the Victory Was Fitting
There have been conversations throughout the past two seasons about how Harvick would inevitably win. He just had too much experience and a championship-caliber team surrounding him. Though no one knew where he would break the winless streak.
The race at Michigan International Speedway was a fitting place for Harvick to snap this streak. He entered the weekend with five victories in 41 starts, including three straight in 2019-2020 and two in the Busch Light Apple Ford.
Harvick took his red Busch Light Ford back to Victory Lane, and he captured one of the most important wins of his career. He was out of the playoff picture with four races remaining in the regular season, but he now has his spot in the field after becoming the 15th different winner in 2022.
The Playoff Picture Continues To Turn Heads
With Harvick winning his first race in nearly two years, there is now only one spot remaining in the 16-driver field. Ryan Blaney holds that spot by virtue of points, but he is only 19 points above the cutline despite having the second-most points in the entire series.
Martin Truex Jr., who is fourth in points, is the first driver below the cutline. He entered the race weekend in the final transfer spot and 96 points ahead of Harvick. Now he is the first driver out of the playoff picture with three more opportunities to secure a win.
There is still the possibility that more than 16 drivers will win in the regular season. If Truex is among this group, he will rocket up the leaderboard and will knock out Kurt Busch, the lowest single-win driver in terms of points. If not, the 2017 Cup Series champion will miss out on the opportunity to pursue more playoff success.
This playoff picture will only create more conversations based on the remaining races on the schedule. The drivers will head to Richmond Raceway next, a track where Toyota has reigned supreme in nine of the past 13 races.
After Richmond, the drivers will finish out the regular season with a road course in Watkins Glen International and a superspeedway in Daytona International Speedway. Both tracks are likely to produce chaos, and there is always the possibility of a new winner.