Kevin Harvick holds off Bubba Wallace for a winless streak

Of Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR writer

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Kevin Harvick went 65 runs without a win before Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

So when he took the lead on pit road with 38 laps to go and then overtook the track, he was elated to have a trophy, let alone a berth in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

“It felt like a lot more than that,” Harvick said of his winless streak with his previous win coming in September 2020 at Bristol.

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Here are three takeaways from Michigan.

NASCAR Cup Series in Michigan

NASCAR Cup Series in Michigan

Complete highlights from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan.

Harvick gives playoff picture

Harvick entered the race 10th in the points standings, but 96 points out of the playoffs with four races remaining in the regular season.

His win moved him into the playoffs, where the regular season winner and then the 15 drivers based on wins (with points breakdown) make up the 16-driver field.

“I’m more worried about the trophy,” he said. “Being in a position to win a race is something you have to do to even think about having a chance to contend for a championship.

“Doing that and knowing how we’ve been doing for the last month has been exciting.”

Truex, Blaney now on bubble

Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney traded places a couple of times late in the race with Blaney finishing fifth and Truex sixth. But with stage points earned earlier in the race, Truex earned six more points than Blaney to cut the gap between them to 19 points.

Ryan Blaney reflects on the season including points, wins and playoffs

Ryan Blaney reflects on the season including points, wins and playoffs

After Michigan, Ryan Blaney reflects on his season including points, wins and playoffs.

With 15 winners this year, there would be a maximum of one spot available in the playoffs for a driver without a win based on points. Blaney clings to that spot.

“We’re running 19 [of Truex] for points and try to win,” Blaney said. “We’ll try to do both.”

While Harvick was doing his burnout, Truex was feeling his plight after going from 96 points to the good to now being outside the bubble looking in.

“We didn’t know before,” Truex said. “Now we know. We have to win. It’s that simple.”

Martin Truex Jr. whether he will make the playoffs in NASCAR

Martin Truex Jr.  whether he will make the playoffs in NASCAR

“We have to win. It’s that simple.” – Martin Truex Jr. about whether or not he’ll make the NASCAR playoffs.

Wallace what-if

Bubba Wallace and Harvick started side-by-side on the front row on the restart with 35 laps remaining, and Wallace was shuffled back to third.

Wallace had one of the best cars, sitting on the pole and leading 22 laps. But he came up empty and wondered if choosing to start on the front row next to Harvick instead of behind him (and potentially push him to where they might separate the track) made the difference.

“You’re going up with one of the best and Harvick, right? What do you do? Push him? Run him?” Wallace said. “And you have that chip on your shoulder. It’s like, ‘Man, we’ve been fast all weekend. I can surpass him.”

“If we could get away and I was able to stay with him, we could have beaten him. It would have been a challenge.”

Bubba Wallace talks about his runner-up finish at Michigan

Bubba Wallace talks about his runner-up finish at Michigan

Bubba Wallace could only wonder what could have been and what he could have done differently after his runner-up finish at Michigan.

Wallace took several minutes to compose himself after the race.

“[It’s] a humbling moment,” said Wallace, whose only Cup win came at Talladega last year. “You’ve got to lose one before you win one and just proud of the momentum we’re on. … I will carry this with me for a while. I let the team down.”

Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpock grass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!


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