CONCORD, N.C. — A race-long duel between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick continued in the second stage of Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with Harvick coming out on top again and sweeping the first two stages.
Harvick’s pair of stage wins on Sunday were his first since sweeping the first two stages at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March, and give him a total of five stage wins this season.
“It’s going good right now. Obviously, you always want to be better, but we’ve been strong so far and the crew has done a great job keeping us up front and in contention,” said Harvick. “If the sticky stuff wears off from the top side, it’s going to affect what we’re able to do … we’ll just have to see how much it hurts us.”
Though Jamie McMurray won the race off pit road and led the field back to green to start the second stage on lap 98, he was quickly overhauled by Busch and fell back as the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota set sail out in front.
Busch cruised easily until a spinning Michael McDowell put up a smoke show in turn three, drawing the yellow flag on lap 116 and setting up a restart five laps later during which Harvick pounced on the inside lane.
A big slide job in turn two afforded Harvick the lead once again, but Busch kept the No. 4 in his sights until his Toyota got loose in turn three on lap 136 — similar to a practice incident he suffered on Friday — popping the outside wall and sustaining significant damage as a result of the contact.
That dropped Busch to the tail of the lead lap, but his battered machine was able to continue as Harvick led the field back to another restart on the 141st round, taking the lead ahead of Chase Elliott and holding it through the end of the run.
Elliott took the green-checkered flag in second, 1.556 seconds adrift of Harvick, followed by Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr. and non-playoff driver Kurt Busch.
Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney and Jamie McMurray completed the top 10 runners and all received bonus points at the second stage break.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished the stage in 11th, while Brad Keselowski crossed in 13th.
Busch languished in 31st, two laps down after damage repairs.
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
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