Only in overtime the race decided in Kansas. In the end, Brad Keselowski claimed his third win of the season. Alex Bowman finished second for the third time in a row.
The Digital Ally 400 was the venue for the next night race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series last weekend. After a total of seven credits including extra time, Keselowski narrowly defeated Alex Bowman.
After qualifying on the oval in Kansas, everything pointed to a winner from the home Stewart Haas Racing, because all four cars of the team were in the top four starting positions. Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez, however, were among the eleven pilots who failed the technical inspection before the race and were therefore relegated to the rear. Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick kept his starting place and pushed the race directly in the beginning his stamp on and led a large part of the 80 round in the first race segment. In addition to the announced competition caution, the first race section was interrupted only once. The trigger was a spin from Danny Hamlin on the back straight. The stage victory Harvick secured before Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse.
Also in the second third of the race, the Ford driver dominated the race over long distances. However, the Californian was intercepted shortly before the end of the second stage by Elliott, who also secured the Stage victory. Third was Erik Jones.
Harvick in bad luck
Despite strong performance in the first two race segments, Harvick should also remain winless in Kansas. Shortly after the beginning of the last third of the race, the 2014 champion had to pit again due to a not properly mounted bike and dropped out of the lead lap.
While Harvick's stop under green was unscheduled, the last regular pit-pit visits took place about 50 laps to go. Meanwhile, one of the rolling tires of Ryan Blaney caused another yellow phase. The lead, led by Bowman and Elliott, had not been in the pits at the time, so they came under yellow for service. A few laps later, Blaney unleashed a race break again, this time due to puncture. Harvick was back on the lead.
Decision in overtime
After a part of the leadership group had used the renewed caution for another tire change, it flared up the top a fight for the victory between Bowman, Keselowski and Jones. With only a few laps to go, Keselowski used the roundabout traffic to overtake the Hendrick Chevrolet. Jones also passed Bowman.
Just before the end, Matt DiBenedetto made sure of the final caution, which extended the race by four laps. While Keselowski defended his lead, Bowman claimed second place from Jones.
Up Next: Monster Energy's All-Star Race
The next season's highlight is coming up next weekend: The Monster Energy All-Star Race. All winners of the last season and the previous races of the current season as well as the previous winners of the invitation race and the champions of the past season are directly qualified for the race in Charlotte. So far, the following pilots are qualified: Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Bush, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.
In addition, the Monster Energy Open is a qualifying race over 50 laps, for which more than 20 teams are registered. This in turn is divided into three segments, whose winners qualify for the All-Star race. Added to this is the winner of the fan voting.
Unlike the point races, the All Star Race is divided into four segments. Stage 1 lasts 30 laps, Stage 2 and 3 are 20 laps each. This is followed by a shootout over ten laps. In addition, the overtime rule reaches the end of one every stage.
The all-star race is also accompanied by some changes in terms of aerodynamics. NASCAR brings two new items to Charlotte. The first new technical component is a one-piece carbon fiber splitter, which is expected to dramatically improve the sensitivity of the vehicle's height. The splitter should also provide a more stable aero platform and produce smoother traffic performance.
"We look forward to bringing in two important elements that we consider and evaluate for our Gen-7 car," said John Probst, senior vice president of racing innovation to NASCAR.com. "This will be a good chance for us to see this under real race conditions. Nowadays we have a flake splitter where the teams track control of their heights very often, which is quite expensive. It also makes the sweet spot, if you will, narrow for the setup. It will be well visible to people watching on TV or in the stands at home. The whole idea behind it is actually just trying to open the window for a good setup for our teams. "
The second innovation provides that cars are configured with a radiator outlet through the hood. This separates aerodynamic power and engine temperatures, and generates more parity throughout the field.
"Throughout its history, the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race has provided a platform to explore new and innovative ideas, some of which we have implemented on a permanent basis," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's Executive Vice President. "Last year's All-Star Rule Package resulted in one of history's most exciting all-star races. With a similar package and additional elements that we could see in the next generation race car, we expect another highlight. "
Of the still active pilots succeeded only Jimmie Johnson and last year's winner Kevin Harvick to win the event multiple times. While Jonhson wins four wins, Harvick triumphed for the second time last year in Charlotte. Hendrick Motorsports also leads the list in the eight-team teams, followed by Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing, each with four wins. Penske gets three hits while Joe Gibbs Racing has two triumphs. The manufacturer ranking leads Chevrolet with 17 wins ahead of Ford (12) and Toyota and Dodge (2).