“The Closer” has returned.
Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in his No. 4 ditech Chevrolet. Harvick, nicknamed “The Closer” for many years, hasn’t lived up to his nickname in the past couple years, finishing in second place more than any other Sprint Cup driver in the past three seasons. But this weekend, “The Closer” closed. He only led eight of the 300 laps in the race, which Toyota dominated (led over 260 laps).
“Man, that worked out really good,” Harvick said to NBCSN, who found victory lane at NHMS for the first time in 10 years. “The car was pretty good on the restarts. Once we got clean air there at the end, it wound up being really good up front. I’m just really proud of our team. They did a great job.” It was Harvick’s third win of the season as well (Phoenix and Bristol).
Last season, Harvick went to Dover in a must-win scenario, and delivered. However, this season, his team can breathe easy. The win automatically advances the No. 4 to the Round of 12. Harvick has yet to fail to advance to a round since the Chase elimination debuted in 2014.
“One of our main goals this year was to not stress ourselves out so bad,” Harvick told NBCSN. “I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we’re doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there.”
Matt Kenseth (led 105 laps) finished second after losing the lead to Harvick on the final restart. The restart prior, Harvick complained about Kenseth laying back, and NASCAR radioed to the No. 20 team telling them to keep what would be the final restart clean.
“I should have went deep in the box and waited, and the acceleration was probably better down there anyway, but I didn’t,” Kenseth told NBCSN after winning the previous two races at The Magic Mile. “I went right at the first line, and he anticipated a little bit of that and got rolling good through the gears, and then I got through the gears bad. I spun the tires in second (gear), I spun the tires in third, so I had a really bad restart besides all that.”
His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, finished third, with Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch rounding out the top five when the checkered flag flew on Sunday afternoon.
Polesitter Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr. (led 141 laps), Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson rounded out the top ten, with Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin closing out the top 15.
Some other notables include Austin Dillon (16th), Danica Patrick (18th), Jamie McMurray (19th), Tony Stewart (23rd) and Chris Buescher (30th). McMurray, Dillon, Stewart and Buescher also are currently sitting below the cut line as the final race of the Round of 16 takes place next weekend at Dover International Speedway (Oct. 2) at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
NOTES: Elliott Sadler won the Xfinity Series Chase opener at Kentucky Speedway and William Byron won the Camping World Truck Series Chase opener at New Hampshire. Both drivers have now advanced to the next round of their respective Chases.