With a victory already in hand in the first round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, along with the automatic berth in the second round that goes with that, Kevin Harvick could have taken it easy in Saturday night's Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Instead of kicking back, Harvick kicked butt.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took the lead for the fourth and last time on with 32 laps to go in the 500-lap race, held off defending champion Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing, and drove away with his ninth win of the season.
His margin of victory over Busch, who was scrapping for his first victory of the season, was .31 seconds. Harvick led a race-high 226 of 500 laps. Busch led 159 laps, which was second most.
Finishing third was Erik Jones, a non-playoff driver, while rookie Tyler Reddick, also a non-playoff-er, was fourth. Placing fifth was playoff driver Aric Almirola, Harvick's teammate.
The race was the final event of the playoffs-opening Round of 16. The Round of 12 begins next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Moving on to the Round of 12 are Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr.
Relegated to non-playoffs status were Hendrick Motorsports' William Byron, who crashed out with a damaged front end while running 10th, along with Cole Custer, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto.
"I think the 51 car (of Joey Gase), it was a black and green car, checked up in the middle of the straightaway. I had really nowhere to go," Byron said. "Ridiculous that that's what takes us out. I thought we had a shot to run top five or seven."
--Field Level Media