Kevin Harvick gets 9th win of the season by holding off Kyle Busch at Bristol

Kevin Harvick celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Bristol, Tenn. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Kevin Harvick has nine wins in 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Kevin Harvick keeps winning this season. And Kyle Busch still hasn’t won in 2020.

Harvick held the 2019 champion at bay over the final 32 laps of Saturday night’s Bristol night race to get his ninth win of the season and keep Busch winless.

Harvick and Busch traded the lead thanks to lapped traffic over the final 88 laps of the race. Harvick led for 46 laps before Busch led for 10. But Harvick got back past Busch with 32 laps to go and was able to keep the 2019 Cup Series champion in second for the rest of the race in a fun battle between two of the Cup Series’ best drivers.

Harvick’s nine wins so far this season are the most he’s had in any season. And as Harvick is having the best season of his career, Busch has just seven more races in 2020 to avoid his first winless season ever in the Cup Series.

Saturday night’s race was the final race in the first round of the 10-race playoffs. Four drivers were eliminated from playoff contention while 12 will advance to the second round.

Blaney, Byron, Custer, DiBenedetto eliminated

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Ryan Blaney is the biggest name to get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Blaney entered the race 27 points out of 12th and ended up finishing 13th. That wasn’t good enough to move on.

He’s joined among the eliminations by William Byron, Cole Custer and Matt DiBenedetto. Byron was eliminated after apparently running into Christopher Bell when Joey Gase’s car slowed on track. We say apparently because NBC never showed a replay of Byron’s incident. Viewers at home just saw the crimpled front end of Byron’s car.

Just six cars on the lead lap

The race’s final caution came on lap 406 when Austin Dillon got into James Davison who in turn collected Reed Sorenson. That caution flag came during green-flag pit stops and meant that only six cars finished the race on the lead lap.

That’s the fewest cars to finish on the lead lap at Bristol since the 2003 spring race. That race also had six lead-lap finishers.

Playoff standings

1. Kevin Harvick, 3,067 points

2. Denny Hamlin, 3,048

3. Brad Keselowski, 3,305

4. Joey Logano, 3,022

5. Chase Elliott, 3,021

6. Martin Truex Jr., 3,016

7. Alex Bowman, 3,009

8. Austin Dilon, 3,005

9. Aric Almirola, 3,005

10. Kyle Busch, 3,004

11. Clint Bowyer, 3,004

12. Kurt Busch, 3,001

Race results

1. Kevin Harvick

2. Kyle Busch

3. Erik Jones

4. Tyler Reddick

5. Aric Almirola

6. Clint Bowyer

7. Chase Elliott

8. Chris Buescher

9. Ryan Preece

10. Michael McDowell

11. Joey Logano

12. Austin Dillon

13. Ryan Blaney

14. Matt Kenseth

15. Kurt Busch

16. Alex Bowman

17. Jimmie Johnson

18. Ty Dillon

19. Matt DiBenedetto

20. John Hunter Nemechek

21. Denny Hamlin

22. Bubba Wallace

23. Cole Custer

24. Martin Truex Jr.

25. Ryan Newman

26. Daniel Suarez

27. Gray Gaulding

28. Christopher Bell

29. Quin Houff

30. JJ Yeley

31. Joey Gase

32. Garrett Smithley

33. Corey LaJoie

34. Brad Keselowski

35. James Davison

36. Reed Sorenson

37. Timmy Hill

38. William Byron

39. Josh Bilicki

40. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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