KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kevin Harvick didn't simply have his hands full with the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup field Sunday. He also was trying to tame a squirrely surface at Kansas Speedway. He handled both better than anybody else.
Harvick pulled away from Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon on a late restart to win a wreck-filled Hollywood Casino 400 over the recently repaved track, staying out of trouble and making a big move in the Chase for the Championship.
"It was an interesting weekend, to say the least," said Harvick, who moved into third in points behind leaders Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson. "Everybody was battling the tires and the track, and I think it was like driving on a razor blade."
Harvick, in the No. 29 Chevrolet, sat on the pole for the first time in 254 races.
"These guys just did a great job all weekend," Harvick said. "To have a car fast enough for me to qualify on the pole says a lot about how fast this thing is."
Joey Logano finished fourth, Carl Edwards fifth, and Johnson sixth.
Kenseth held onto his lead in the Chase with an 11th-place finish. Johnson narrowed the gap to three points, while Harvick closed to within 25 points.
"We just got to keep doing what we did today to be a contender," said his car owner, Richard Childress. "I don't think top 10s will win a championship when you're racing Jimmie Johnson and the group of guys that are up there."
Kyle Busch was the big loser after crashing out of his third straight Cup race at Kansas. He dropped from third in points to fifth, 35 out of first.
"All in all just a crazy day," said Johnson, who shaved five points off of Kenseth's lead. "Wacky restarts, a lot of chaos there, and caution after caution for who knows what."
There were 15 cautions, breaking the record of 14 set in last year's race. The race wasn't even a lap old when Danica Patrick slammed into the wall. Most occurred when cars got loose coming out of Turn 2.
Kenseth called the race "treacherous," pointing to a repave last year and Goodyear's new "multi-zone" tires that made it seem as if they were skating across a glasslike surface. All of it was compounded by temperatures in the 50s at the start.
"It's all about restarts and making sure you can gain spots, but it's treacherous," Kurt Busch said. "You had to have a lot of give and take."
One of the intriguing story lines coming into the race involved Chase contender Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, who got together in the Nationwide series race Saturday.
Keselowski said that Busch intentionally dumped him and seemed to indicate he would retaliate in the Sprint Cup race. It turned out that Busch kept going for spins without Keselowski's help.
The first one came down the front stretch when he appeared to squeeze Juan Pablo Montoya, sending Busch sideways across the track. After a restart a moment later, his No. 18 Toyota went headfirst into the wall and ended his day.
"It's Kansas. It's what we do here, we just crash," Busch said. "The racetrack is the worst racetrack I've ever driven on. The tires are the worst tires I've ever driven on. You can't do anything."