Harvick wins again; NASCAR’s playoff picture remains muddled

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kevin Harvick took the lead from Joey Logano with 66 laps to go and held off Christopher Bell at Richmond Raceway on Sunday for his second straight NASCAR Cup Series win.

Harvick, who ended a 65-race drought last week at Michigan, won for the 60th time, fourth time at Richmond and first time at the 0.75-mile oval since 2013. He tied Kyle Busch for the ninth career win in the opening series. .

Harvick’s victory also kept alive the intriguing battle for the final playoff position with two runs remaining in the regular season. This year’s 15 winners have likely all claimed playoff spots unless there are new winners when the series moves to Watkins Glen and then Daytona.

Bell finished second, followed by Chris Buescher, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. Joey Logano, who led for 221 of the 400 laps, moved up to sixth, followed by Martin Truex Jr. Ryan Blaney was 10th. Blaney and Truex are the top two drivers by points hoping to make the 16-driver postseason winless.

Thanks to stage points, Blaney increased his 19-point lead to 26 over Truex for the final playoff spot, assuming there is no different 16th winner.

The race featured just five cautions for 28 laps, and that includes the two that come at the end of each stage. The latest came when Bell spun on lap 252 and Harvick pulled away after a pair of green-flag pit cycles.

TIPS

Ty Gibbs again replaced Kurt Busch, who missed his fourth consecutive race while recovering from a concussion. After earning his first top 10 a week ago, Gibbs only completed 180 laps before his engine blew up. … Bubba Wallace, like Gibbs driving for 23XI Racing owned by Michael Jordan and Hamlin, saw his top-10 streak come to a halt at four. He finishes 13th. … Kyle Busch’s streak of eight straight finishes outside the top 10 ended with a ninth-place finish.

NEXT

The series moves to the road course in Watkins Glen, New York.

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More AP Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports




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