Ask any driver what they want to do every at every race and “stink up the show” would be the answer. Translation: dominate the competition.
For Kevin Harvick is Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway it was mission accomplished.
Harvick scored his second straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win, the 39th of his career and 100th victory in top tier racing Sunday in a dominating performance. He literally picked up right where he left off last week after his win at Atlanta and is two for three in 2018.
Some fans might be surprised about the early season run but not Harvick or crew chief Rodney Childers. While there was some lamenting inside the Ford camp the manufacturer would lag behind Toyota and Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing was not buying any of it. Based on Atlanta and Las Vegas, that optimism was understandable.
Sunday’s race was drama free and if you aren’t a fan of Harvick there wasn’t much to root for over the 400 miles. Don’t expect an apology from the driver of the No. 4 Ford.
Harvick now heads to ISM Raceway in Phoenix next week with a chance to score the rare Cup three-peat. He’s been a beast at the desert track over the course of his career, even though by his standards Harvick’s cooled off recently.
He’s anything but on the cold side so far in 2018.
- The car chiefs for Jimmie Johnson and Ross Chastain were ejected prior to Sunday’s race after those cars failed inspection three times. Jesse Saunders and Lee Leslie respectively were forced to leave the track as part of NASCAR’s new punishment policy for failing inspection multiple times. Generally speaking the weekend saw a few teams have difficulty getting through the Optical Scanning Station system but only a handful experienced multiple challenges. The Las Vegas experience was the latest in a series of frustrations for Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and company.
- Another week and some teams experienced problems with the new common air guns including Harvick, Daniel Suarez and Kyle Busch among others. Patience has been preached in the transition to the new equipment but now after three weeks there appears to be more of a trend developing, which understandably has teams and drivers nervous. The last thing anyone wants is for a malfunction to arise at a critical point in a race, impacting the outcome or even the playoff picture. NASCAR officials will no doubt be hard at work this week with supplier Paoli to eradicate the issue.
- Three days and nights of racing produced pretty good competition at LVMS with most attributing things to the track’s surface. While not as worn out as last week’s visit to Atlanta, the Vegas surface has character mainly in the form of several bumps around the 1.5-mile layout. The result forced drivers to find different lines while also managing tire wear. Even with dominating runs from Kyle Larson in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race and Kevin Harvick in Sunday’s main event, drivers embraced the track’s surface. It’s a scenario that will be repeated in two weeks when the NASCAR Goes West tour ends up at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
- The weekend was the first of two NASCAR tripleheaders for Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which will welcome all three top divisions back in September and kick off the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. There is some question about whether the market can sustain two weekends but judging by this weekend ‘s turnout interest is high. There are reports the annual NASCAR Awards Banquet may not remain in Vegas for fear of oversaturation now with two race weekends. But in terms of competition it appears the appetite is strong right now around “Sin City.”
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.