Kevin Harvick was in front in his Outback Chevrolet to take the checkered flag at the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway Sunday. He automatically advances to the next round in the Sprint Cup Championship.

Pole-winner Matt Kenseth had early dominance with no one even close during the first half of the race. The 20 car’s handling went away swiftly after tagging the wall while under no pressure and dropping from the point to out of the top 10 before rallying back for a 9th place finish.

Harvick and Carl Edwards played cat and mouse with the lead for the balance of the 400 miler. With 30 laps left, Harvick seized the opportunity on the inside lane of the final restart to snatch P1 while watching Edwards and Kyle Busch battle in his rear-view mirror before Busch faded to 5th.

Chase Elliot did work his way to the front, but mysteriously his left rear started smoking shortly after a green-flag stop near the midpoint of the race. The problem came back late in the race forcing the rookie driver into a must-win mode being 25 points out of advancing to the round of 8.

Martin Truex, Jr. also had a car good enough to run up front, but fuel intake problems put the 78 into scramble mode to salvage the 11th place finish. Meanwhile prior to the race Brad Keselowski told NBC Sports that he had a big cushion and had no sense of urgency. While moving in front of Denny Hamlin off turn 4, Keselowski lost traction with Hamlin unable to avoid contact sending Keselowski to the garage and in deep peril for his title hopes.

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Hamlin’s day was a struggle to a 15th place finish with a broken splitter, penalties and the aforementioned meeting with the 2 car leading him to admit, “It was just a bunch of stupid stuff.”

Joey Logano and Austin Dillon rebounded well after troubles last week in Charlotte. Logano was third and Dillon sixth to leave them tied for the final Chase spot with the 22 holding a tiebreak advantage.

Kurt Busch feels like he escaped with a charmed race in 13th. The 41 crashed in practice and had to start at the rear of the field even banking a point by leading a lap under caution just in case.

Harvick breaks down how he was able to snatch the advantage. “We got two good restarts at the end. We were able to break the draft and get in front of Carl in turns one and two.”

Edwards agreed with Harvick’s assessment. “Jimmie (Johnson) got in behind Kevin and broke the draft and with so much momentum, I couldn’t pin him down and he got by.”

With only Harvick and Johnson assured of their spot in the round of 8, Talladega awaits for the second elimination race of the Sprint Cup chase.

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