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NASCAR weekly: Kevin Harvick wins both races in Michigan

Credits: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick was unbeatable in the double header in Michigan last weekend – The Stewart Haas driver won both races

NASCAR Cup Series (by: André Wiegold)

Last weekend, Kevin Harvick showed what he’s made of in his Stewart-Haas Ford: The 2014 NASCAR champion won both races at the double header in Michigan, underlining his title ambitions for the 2020 season. His 55th win in the Cup Series put him in the top 10 of the historical winner’s list.

After the Michigan double victory, the Californian has as many victories in his pockets as NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace, who is one of the most influential drivers in the series’ history with 706 races in 25 years. In ninth place is Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) with 56 victories, but the Gibbs driver is still waiting for his first win in the 2020 season.

But the two race wins were hard work for Harvick. On Saturday, the 44-year-old prevailed over his rivals with a very dominant performance. He won both stages and finally crossed the finish line ahead of Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), Martin Truex Jr. (Joe Gibbs Racing), Ryan Blaney (Team Penske) and Busch.

A Sunday with many highlights

On Sunday Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing) had won the first race segment before the Harvick show continued. The race car driver from Bakersfield and Bowyer’s teammate secured the bonus points in Stage 2 and ultimately took the victory. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing), Truex Jr., Busch and Joey Logano (Team Penske) completed the top 5.

Keselowski and Blaney had a lot of bad luck on Sunday: Keselowski tried to overtake his Penske teammate on the lower line, but lost control of his car. The two top drivers touched each other and crashed hard into the safer barrier. After a strong performance on Saturday, both went away empty-handed.

But this was not the only nerve-wracking situation in a lively Sunday race. Harvick in his understeering Ford hit the quarter panel of Busch’s #18 Toyota, and the current champion touched the wall and fell back many places. But Busch got back up on his feed and grabbed a solid fourth place.

New rules in the NASCAR circus

There was already one rule change at the Double-Header in Michigan: The “Cone or Choose Rule”. The format was already implemented at the All-Star Race in Bristol and in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at the 2018 Oval World Challenge at the Tours Speedway. It should make restarts on intermediate ovals and short tracks more interesting.

Before the race goes back to green after a caution period, the drivers have to choose between the inner or outer line in front of an orange marker on the track. Strategy plays an important role here, as the drivers can choose the supposedly better line for the restart or try to gain positions on the other line. This rule does not apply on road courses and super speedways.

From the Daytona road course race onwards, the starting grid will no longer be decided by the lot. A new calculation formula will reward the performance of the drivers. The decisive factors are the result of the previous race with a 50 percent weighting, the position in the current owner classification with a 35 percent weighting and the position in the classification of the fastest race laps in the previous race with a 15 percent weighting.

The new SRX Series by Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham introduced a new driver in its line-up: 2000 NASCAR champion and Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte has confirmed his participation in the new short track series of the two NASCAR legends.

NASCAR Xfinity Series (by: André Wiegold)

Credits: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The drivers and teams of the NASCAR Xfinity Series traveled to Elkhart Lake last weekend. Once again the winner was Austin Cindric, who took his fourth win of the season in the Penske Ford. On Road America, the 21-year-old prevailed against road course specialist A.J. Allmendinger (Kaulig Racing).

The stage wins went to Justin Haley (Kaulig Racing) and his teammate Allmendinger. For Cindric, who is a hot candidate for the Xfinity title, the silly season between the 2020 and 2021 seasons could be groundbreaking. Team Penske has no seat left after Keselowski’s contract extension and Matt DiBenedetto seems to be set in Penske’s satellite team Wood Brothers.

NASCAR Gander & RV Outdoors Truck Series (by: Simon Mones)

The NASCAR Gander & RV Outdoors Truck Series race in Michigan over the weekend was particularly tough in the closing stages. Two extensions were necessary until the winner, Zane Smith, was determined.

The 21-year-old was only leading the last lap of the race after he had fought with Christian Eckes for victory. “I don’t even know where to start. It’s just unbelievable,” said Smith after the race, delighted about his first victory in the Truck Series.  

“Making it to this point, and with a win with such an awesome team like GMS Racing is something special. I wish I was here celebrating with my parents and my girlfriend.” The stages were won by Johnny Sauter and Brett Moffitt.

Truck comeback for Alex Tagliani

After Travis Pastrana, ex-IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani has now also announced his comeback in the Truck Series. The Canadian already took the wheel in 2019 for Kyle Busch’s team in the third NASCAR league.

It will be the sixth truck race in total for Tagliani, who started for Brad Keselowski’s team in 2014 and 2015. For the first time, the Canadian will not race in Mosport but on the Daytona circuit, a NASCAR race. The reason: The race in Canada was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.