Harvick wins at Kansas; Johnson cuts Kenseth’s Chase lead to three points

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Kevin Harvick (pictured) boosted his Sprint Cup championship hopes in his final season with Richard Childress Racing, winning from the pole in today’s caution-marred Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Harvick was able to scoot away off a restart with 19 laps to go in order to earn his third win of the season, and move within 25 points of Chase for the Sprint Cup leader Matt Kenseth.

These guys just did a great job all weekend,” Harvick told The Associated Press. “To have a car fast enough for me to qualify on the pole says a lot about how fast this thing is.”

Kenseth was able to stay atop the standings but saw his edge over Jimmie Johnson drop to three points. Johnson came away with a sixth-place finish, while Kenseth was forced to rally for an 11th place result after being penalized mid-race for speeding on pit road.

The biggest loser in the Heartland was Kyle Busch, who once again suffered a tough day on the 1.5-mile oval outside Kansas City. On Lap 200, Busch got loose and hit the wall, inflicting major front-end damage to his car in the process.

As a result, he fell to fifth in the Chase at 35 points behind Kenseth, as both Harvick and Jeff Gordon (fourth, 32 points behind Kenseth) were able to leapfrog him in the title picture.

A first-lap incident involving Kyle Busch, Danica Patrick, David Reutimann and Cole Whitt seemed to set the tone for the race, which took place in cool conditions and had a record 15 cautions – including one on Lap 155 for a brush fire outside of Turn 1 that emerged near a spectator area. According to NASCAR, the fire was quickly put out and no injuries were reported.

Harvick took the checkered flag ahead of Kurt Busch, Gordon, Joey Logano and Carl Edwards.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.