(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) Feeding off one of the largest crowds at a sporting event during the pandemic, Kevin Harvick steamrolled his way into the second round of NASCAR's playoffs in a championship that is clearly his to lose.
Harvick held off a charging Kyle Busch over the final 40 laps Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway for his career-best and Cup Series-high ninth victory of the season. He did it in front of a sold-out crowd of 30,000 spectators, the most Bristol was allowed to admit and the largest crowd since March.
"I hadn't been to too many races where I've been that jacked up getting in the race car," Harvick said. "The fans were so enthusiastic tonight and I don't know if we've just been away from them for that long, but you could feel the enthusiasm in the stadium tonight.