Kevin Harvick is halfway leader in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas

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Leading the field at the halfway point of  Sunday’s 267-lap Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, last week’s race winner at Phoenix, Kevin Harvick, is looking to make it two wins in a row.

Coming up one spot short of victory in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway must have lit a fire under Kyle Busch, as the younger Busch brother led 51 laps before surrendering the lead to Harvick just four laps before halfway.

Pole-sitter Joey Logano led the field to the green and led 44 of the first 100 laps of the scheduled 267-lap event on the progressively-banked 1.5-mile racetrack. Logano was running 11th at halfway.

Four-time Las Vegas race-winner and defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson eventually found his way to the front and led 30 laps before surrendering his advantage to Kyle Busch. Johnson was third at the halfway mark before pitting for fuel and four tires a few laps past halfway.

Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued his strong start to the 2014 season, coming in fourth at the halfway mark.

Brad Keselowski, who started on the outside pole alongside Penske Racing teammate Logano, rarely strayed far from the top five and appeared headed to a third consecutive strong finish, sitting sixth at halfway.

Last year’s race winner at Las Vegas, Matt Kenseth, seemed content to remain in the top 10, running ninth at the midpoint, perhaps saving a final kick for the final laps.

Others in the top 10 at halfway included Jeff Gordon (fifth), Martin Truex Jr. (seventh),  Paul Menard (eighth) and Denny Hamlin (10th).

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises – and not in a good way – was the performance of Tony Stewart, who fell to 32nd position after the first 100 laps. Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch, who hails from Las Vegas but counts its racetrack as his worst-performing facility on the Sprint Cup circuit, was ranked 22nd at halfway, while Danica Patrick was running 28th.

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Christopher Bell wins third straight Chili Bowl

@cbnationals, Twitter
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Christopher Bell passed Kyle Larson on the final lap of the 55-lap A-Feature to win the 33rd Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. Bell is only the second driver in event history to win three consecutive Golden Drillers, joining Kevin Swindell who holds the record with four.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to win the Chili Bowl,” Bell said at ChiliBowl.com. “To do it three straight times is just unbelievable, but man, I don’t even care about three straight. What about that race? I don’t think I’ve ever really been a part of a last lap race like that, so I’m just glad that thing came out in the end.”

As the white flag waved on his eighth appearance in Saturday’s main event, it seemed Larson was finally going to walk away with his first Golden Driller. This was closest he’s been to the win.

Larson took the lead from Logan Seavey on Lap 21 after a five-lap hot pursuit. Bell moved into second for the first time on Lap 27 but a caution forced him back to third as the field realigned to the last completed lap.

On Lap 33, Bell passed Seavey again for second before another caution reset the field. On the next restart Bell road the rim diving to the hub in Turns 3 and 4. With Larson in sight, Bell started to think about where he was going to put his third trophy.

The final caution flag of the night waved with 20 to go to set up the Bell vs. Larson shootout fans had been waiting for since Larson retired early from the race last year. Larson pulled away on the highline in Turns 1 and 2. He switched to the low in 3 and 4.

With five laps to go Larson hit traffic. That gave Bell the opportunity to close the gap. With two to go Bell was on top of Larson and challenging for the lead. On the final lap Bell passed Larson in Turn 2 as they bumped tires. Glued together through the final pair of turns, they touched twice more before Bell pulled away on the final stretch.

The action wasn’t over, however. Bell wound up on his lid following the win. His donuts got a little out of control and he rolled his midget.

Justin Grant took third by passing Brady Bacon on Lap 36. Bacon followed for fourth with Zach Daum in tow to complete the top five.

Tyler Courtney was the hard charger of the night finishing sixth after starting in 22nd. Brad Sweet and CJ Leary finished seventh and eighth.

Seavey was able to hold onto third until late in the race but ultimately the pole sitter who led the first 20 laps faded to ninth.

Tanner Thorson rounded out the top ten.

Friday’s Main Event

1. Christopher Bell
2. Kyle Larson
3. Justin Grant
4. Brady Bacon
5. Zach Daum
6. Tyler Courtney
7. Brad Sweet
8. CJ Leary
9. Logan Seavey
10. Tanner Thorson
11. Danny Stratton
12. Jonathan Beason
13. Tucker Klaasmeyer
14. Colby Copeland
15. Rico Abreu
16. Michael Faccinto
17. Chad Boat
18. David Gravel
19. Cole Bodine
20. Robert Dalby
21. Jake Neuman
22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23. Shane Golobic
24. Sean McClelland