Harvick Stays Hot, Wins Big in Las Vegas


Defending champion Kevin Harvick had five straight top-two finishes coming into this past weekends race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, so you figured that it was only a matter of time before he got into Victory Lane in 2015. That’s exactly what he did on Sunday, leading a race-high 142 of the 267 laps en route to his first win of the season, 29th of his career and first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Cup series.

Although his car turned sour during the last 20 laps of the race, he managed to hold on to “an uncomfortable” car for the last ten and ended up in victory lane.  Harvick added that it meant a lot to him to finally win at Las Vegas. He grew up a few hours west of Sin City in Bakersfield, California and wanted to show some of his hometown fans that he could get it done there in the Sprint Cup Series.

For your feel good story of the weekend, how about Martin Truex Jr. coming home in second place in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.  The single-car team is based out of Denver, Colorado, so they don’t have as many resources as the other teams in Charlotte.  After a lackluster 2014 season, Truex Jr. and his team have found motivation on and off the track to perform leaps and bounds better than last season. Truex Jr.’s girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, was diagnosed with cancer last year.  Truex Jr. and the whole NASCAR community came together to support everybody involved, and now the No. 78 car is running up front once again.  It was his third straight top-ten finish of the season, not counting the Sprint Unlimited before the Daytona 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. came home fourth after crew chief Greg Ives made the call for two tires instead of four on the last round of green flag pit stops. The No. 88 briefly took the lead before it was overtaken by the No. 4 car with 20 laps remaining. Earnhardt Jr. added that he “likes the call”, liked the aggressiveness, but it doesn’t matter where you finish if you don’t win. He’s now second in the point standings, behind Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and now Kevin Harvick, who have clinched chase spots.

Some other notable finishes include Ryan Newman (third), Denny Hamlin (fifth) and AJ Allmendinger (sixth) with the little team that could in JTG Daugherty Racing. Then Brad Keselowski (eighth) after getting a tire violation earlier in the race, and his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano, who rounded out the top ten in tenth place.

Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne were involved in an incident towards the latter half of the race. Kahne’s No. 5 was squeezed into the wall coming off turn four by the No. 19 of Edwards. Kahne returned the favor by then clipping Edwards, who spun down into his teammate Denny Hamlin. Hamlin overcorrected and spun out, but didn’t have too much damage. Kahne, who ran in second place behind Harvick for the first half of the race, finished 17th and Edwards finished 42nd after a busted oil cooler.

Jimmie Johnson led 45 laps of the Kobalt 400 in his No. 48 car, before a bad vibration sent him to pit road as the leader after the restart and got him mired back in the field. He later had two more tire problems, both between 14 laps of each other, which sent him to the garage and he ended up finishing in 41st position. Jeb Burton finished 40th after he was slammed into the back of by Jeff Gordon, who was slowing down to avoid the No. 48’s tire blowout. The No. 24 eventually finished 18th. Gordon’s last race at LVMS wasn’t all peaches and cream. He started on the pole but was forced to go to a backup car after a practice incident in which his car was never the same. Tony Stewart also started up front, but had no real speed whatsoever.

Brian Vickers came home 15th in his first race of the 2015 season, as he missed the first two due to heart surgery. He told reporters post-race that it felt like a win to just even be racing in the car again after what he went through this offseason.

I was actually at the race track this weekend in Sin City, and it was a great experience. I hope to go back in the near future and see another great race!

The next race on the Sprint Cup schedule is in Phoenix, Arizona, as the #NASCARGoesWest swing hits it’s middle point. Kevin Harvick is the hands down favorite going in, as he has won four of the last five races in Phoenix and swept the races there last season. Harvick has six straight top-two finishes, and I think he’s a safe bet to make it seven in the desert, but you never know.

You can catch the race on FOX around 3:00 pm eastern time on Sunday March 15, 2015 with the Xfinity Series race the day before on Fox Sports 1. Practice and qualifying sessions will also take place from Thursday through Saturday. Hope everyone enjoyed the race in Vegas and is looking forward to the next one in Phoenix!

Davey Segal is the host of Victory Lane for Impact Sports