Oops, Kevin Harvick Did It Again

He didn’t call his shot, but he sure did hit it out of the park.

Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 team won the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday for his fourth victory of the season. The win gives him an automatic bid to the Round of 8, a boost of momentum and a reassurance of something we already knew: he’s clutch.

Upon exiting his car, the 2014 champion gave an ode to Babe Ruth, as he simulated hitting a baseball out of the park with his Busch Beer can, then stared at it into the distance as his team chanted “I Believe That We Will Win!” furiously in the background.

Leading 70 of the 267 laps, Harvick saved his best for the end. In a race that saw Matt Kenseth dominate, Harvick pulled away from Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards late to find victory lane. The win comes at a perfect time for Harvick, as he was 12th (dead last) on the Chase grid entering Sunday’s race. Now, he can go to Talladega Superspeedway next week worry-free, something that 10 drivers can’t say.

“Do I feel like we had the best car today? Probably not,” Harvick told NBCSN in victory lane post-race. “But guess what, we kept ourselves in it all day […] it’s good to feel like you probably didn’t have the fastest car and win the race because we felt like a lot of times we’ve had the fastest car and didn’t win the race. So it’s good to get a few of those back.”

The win also means that Harvick still has never been eliminated in this format. With his back against the wall in 2014 at Phoenix, he dominated, led the most laps and won the race to advance to the Championship four. The next week at Homestead, he won the race and his first championship. In 2015 at Dover, he had to win to advance, and he did that by again leading the most laps. And this weekend, “The Closer” showed why he’s also “Clutch Kevin.”

“If you can’t win, you won’t win one of these championships,” Harvick continued. “You’ll get to Homestead and you may point (race) your way in, but there will be a car that shows up there that’s going to win the race and win the championship.”

Edwards finished second at his home track, with fellow Chasers Joey Logano coming home third, Jimmie Johnson in fourth and Kyle Busch rounding out the top five.

Austin Dillon, who took two tires on the final pit stop to gain track position, came home with an impressive sixth-place finish. Alex Bowman, AJ Allmendinger, Kenseth, whose car went ill as he fell back in traffic past the midway point in the race, and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top ten when the checkered flag flew on race No. 31 of 36 in the 2016 season.

Some other notables include Martin Truex Jr. in 11th and Kurt Busch in 13th. Denny Hamlin came home 15th after an eventful day, which included a pit stop early to shave down the splitter. He rebounded from running as low as 36th to salvage a top 15 afternoon.

Two Chasers that had bad days were Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski. Elliott led four laps, but was probably the best car on the track. After the final round of green flag pit stops, he suffered a flat tire, forcing him to pit and ending up one lap down.

After failing to earn the lucky dog, he remained in the back of the pack and scraped the wall a couple more times before suffering another flat tire, ending his miserable day outside the top 30, finishing in 31st.

Keselowski was running inside the top 10 when he was sent spinning into the infield grass by Hamlin on lap 189. The No. 11 tapped the No. 2 after Keselowski came up in front of Hamlin pretty fast, and the 2012 champion ended up finishing all the way back in 38th place.

The good news for Keselowski is that next week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway, a track which he has won at before when he needed to. The No. 2 has also been dominant on restrictor plate tracks, winning four of the last six.

As it stands now, Dillon sits in eighth place and is in a tie with Logano to be the first car eliminated. However, the No. 22 holds the tiebreaker, so he is in front of the No. 3 for now. Hamlin (-6), Keselowski (-7) and Elliott (-27) are the bottom four on The Chase Grid. The Alabama 500 goes green on Sunday, Oct. 23 just past 2:00 p.m. ET with television coverage on NBC. With Charlotte and Kansas both being somewhat of a wild card, ‘Dega is bound to be one of the most dramatic–and crazy–races of the season.