Domination and elimination was the story from Michigan on Sunday afternoon. Kevin Harvick dominated and eliminated everyone else from view. He dominated the opening stage. He overcame another pit road miscue that cost him five spots between stages, but he eliminated the danger to come back to claim that, too. As for the money run, he cashed in big time to eliminate everyone else from the storyline. Well, everyone but one. I’ll get to him in a moment.
Denny Hamlin started on the pole, but he was eliminated from our consciousness despite finishing eighth. Kyle Busch was beside him at the start, but he did not matter for the most part despite finishing third. Harvick at least was gracious enough to allow both of his main rivals some cameo time up front. Martin Truex Jr. seemed eliminated only to rise again and then get stomped right back down. William Byron spun him out in the opening stage. Truex came back, led a bit but ran out of fuel near the end of the second. He came in while the pits were closed for a penalty. A tire was left unattended, and he got tagged with another. Truex finished 14th.
In the middle frame, Chase Elliott was eliminated from contention when he had to come in early due to a loose tire. He finished ninth. Kyle Larson also had a tire issue and he also had to pit early. That helped eliminate him from contention, wrapping up the day in 17th. For Erik Jones, it was one damn thing after another. A spin early in the opening stage, only to get spun by Ryan Blaney in the second, and he came home in 13th.
Brad Keselowski finished second, but few noticed. Austin Dillon did get noticed, having his first quality result since winning the Daytona 500. He picked up a flat tire on the final lap, yet still brought the car across the line in fourth. At least somebody other than someone named Harvick had a notable day.
Harvick won his seventh of the season, the 44th of his career to tie Bill Elliott on the all-time list, yet even he got eliminated from consideration as the most talked about Harvick out there. When it came to post-race activities, it was six-year-old Keelan Harvick who dominated.
Dad might have tons of charisma, but the son won in that category walking away. Literally. With the winning car parked on the finish line, Keelan was brought out to walk across the track to fetch the checkered flag. Then Dad put the lad on the passenger side of the car and, with the boy waving the checkers out the window, they drove together to Victory Lane. When the suds were done being splashed, Keelan was taken out of the car and handed a bottle of water to celebrate. He did, splashing dad’s public relations guy Josh Jones from stem to stern, much to the delight of Kevin’s crew chief Rodney Childers and all those watching, including young Keelan himself. Dad won the race, the son continued to win our hearts.
It was a race to watch, again thanks to NBC. The commentary, the chemistry, the insight, and the pure entertainment value kept us watching the action. It was a single groove track, with the outside lane dominating the inside except for those rare moments when a bit of side drafting before diving down in the corners allowed for a pass. It was a single car event, with a few cameos to at least give the false hope the others might compete against the most dominant car on the day. It ended with a father and a son sharing some life-long memories and sharing those moments with us.
On a day when outside my window it poured rain all day, Kevin and Keelan Harvick and NBC provided some much-appreciated sunshine. It was a broadcast that made my Sunday all that more joyful for having just been a part of it.
Now, off to Bristol for a Saturday night of bumping and banging under the lights. There is no question as to what my plans will be.