Kevin Harvick outran Timothy Peters in a green-white-checkered-flag finish at Michigan International Speedway, and with Nelson Piquet Jr. slamming the inside backstretch wall behind him, claimed his second straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in Saturday’s VFW 200.
The victory was owner/driver Harvick’s second in four starts this season and the 11th of his career.
Peters ran second, followed by Miguel Paludo, James Buescher and David Starr. Jason White, Ron Hornaday Jr., Brendan Gaughan, Colin Braun and Cole Whitt completed the top 10.
Harvick, who became the first driver to win at Michigan in all three of NASCAR’s top touring series, avoided a vicious multicar collision on Lap 90—initiated by contact between the trucks of Parker Kligerman and Mark Martin—to put himself in position to win.
Harvick’s No. 2 Chevrolet is now tied with the No. 18 Toyota of Kyle Busch for the lead in the owners’ championship standings.
“Owning the stuff, we’ve seen the stuff from start to finish, from when the buildings were just a piece of dirt to what it’s evolved into today,” Harvick said of his Kevin Harvick Inc. organization. “The last several weeks (which included a win at Pocono) are what we expect out of the race team—it can be not near as much fun when you’re not winning.
“It’s gratifying, but in a different way (from Sprint Cup competition). But when you’re driving it, it’s twice as gratifying, just for the fact that that competitive instinct is fueled by the driver in me. It’s not Sunday, but any trophy you can bring home is a good thing.”
A caution for debris on Lap 78 of a scheduled 100 bunched the field for a restart on Lap 83, with Mark Martin in the lead. Martin battled briefly with Johnny Sauter but soon began to pull away.
On Lap 86, Sauter spun in close quarters with Paludo and slapped the inside retaining wall on the backstretch. Martin led the field to a restart on Lap 89, but the race stayed green only for a moment.
Kligerman’s Dodge broke loose in close racing with Martin, clipped the rear of Martin’s Chevrolet and sent the race leader spinning. The Chevrolet of series points leader Austin Dillon T-boned Kligerman’s truck in the melee, and polesitter Matt Crafton’s Chevy crashed into Martin’s, sending the defenseless Martin spinning for a second time.
The trucks of Dillon and Kligerman were destroyed. Sauter, who trailed Dillon by one point in the standings entering the race, worked his way through the wreck unscathed. Harvick inherited the lead for a restart on Lap 96, but debris from Joey Coulter’s blown tire brought out the sixth caution almost immediately, with Harvick still in the top spot.
Peters and Paludo were positioned to avoid the late-race wreck.
“The only part that I saw was the 29 (Kligerman) trying to get all he could on the bottom,” Peters said. “He just stepped out from under me and chased it up the hill, and it looked like he collected the 32 (Martin).
“Miguel was really good on the bottom on the restarts, so he was already out of harm’s way. We were actually right there. I was glad there was just enough room to try to react.”
With Dillon finishing 22nd, Sauter (13th) regained the series lead by five points over Buescher and eight over Dillon, who slipped to third in the standings.