Kevin Harvick Wins Again in Phoenix

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Kevin Harvick was the clear-cut favorite coming into this weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, winning four out of the last five at the track, the last three in a row and totaling six-straight top two finishes dating back to 2014.  And the No. 4 car led a race-high 224 out of 312 laps en route to the CampingWorld.com 500 win.

Harvick mentioned that it was “really slippery” on the restarts, as he learned the day before in the Xfinity Series race, where he finished third.  But after he got clear of Jamie McMurray on lap 301, the final restart of the race, it was smooth sailing to the end.

The win was Harvick’s second consecutive this season (Las Vegas and now Phoenix), his fourth straight at PIR dating back to the fall of 2013 and his seventh-straight top two finish. He is now tied with “The King”, Richard Petty, for sixth place when it comes to a streak of top two finishes. When someone in the media center mentioned that he is in the history books with Petty, it “gave [him] chills,” to be in the history books with one of the all-time greats.

As for his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates, it was hit or miss. Harvick ended up in victory lane again, and in his first race back, Kurt Busch finished a surprising fifth in his first race back from his indefinite suspension.  “It’s nice to check it off the box, but it’s a long season,” Busch told reporters post-race. He mentioned that he was shocked when crew chief Daniel Knost told him that he was P1 in practice, and that seemed to carry over into the race. As for his other SHR teammates, they were not as lucky as Busch and Harvick.

Tony Stewart brought out two separate cautions. One was for a spin in turn four, which caused damage, and the second was for a blown tire, which sent him into the wall hard with about 20 laps to go.

Danica Patrick was also involved in an accident that brought out one of the eleven cautions on the afternoon. They both ended up finishing 39th and 26th respectively, while their teammates notched a win and a top five finish.

Jamie McMurray, who had a shot at Harvick on the final restart, came home second for his best finish of the season and since his Sprint All-Star win last season at Charlotte.  He told reporters post-race that he “wished [he] had a mulligan” on the last restart, as he would have slid up to cut off Harvick a little bit. Nonetheless, the fastest car won and McMurray ended up with a solid finish. His teammate, Kyle Larson, came home with a tenth place finish after spending most of the race in the top ten.

In his 400th career start, Kasey Kahne came home a solid fourth in his No. 5 Chevrolet.  His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., got mired back in the field after a pit road speeding penalty and could never get back out front. He ended up blowing a tire in the first half of the race, had significant rear bumper damage and finished in dead last, 43rd.

Brian Vickers came home 41st after he slammed the wall on the first lap of the race.  Sam Hornish Jr. (40th) and Alex Kennedy (38th) also brought out cautions and had bad days in their No. 9 and No. 33 cars respectively.

Denny Hamlin never found speed in his car and never got past 15th during the race, coming home in 23rd place. David Ragan, his JGR teammate, came home 21st.

As for some other notable finishes, Jimmie Johnson finished 11th, Jeff Gordon was ninth, Joey Logano eighth, Brad Keselowski sixth and Martin Truex Jr. seventh, nabbing his fourth-straight top ten finish to start the season.

As for the crazy stat of the day, Kurt Busch, who has made one start, has more points than his teammate Tony Stewart, who has made four starts. Busch’s only finish this season was this weekend of fifth and he is 33rd in the point standings, while Stewart is 36th in the point standings.

Phoenix was the second stop of the #NASCARGoesWest campaign, as they close it out next weekend in Fontana, California at Auto Club Speedway. Now, everybody is probably thinking and wondering: can Kevin Harvick do it again and make it three in a row? Well, I have an answer for you: yes.

Harvick won at Auto Club back in 2011 with a last lap last corner pass on Jimmie Johnson. You can catch the race on FOX on Sunday, with practice and qualifying sessions starting on Thursday afternoon. There is also an Xfinity Series race this upcoming weekend at the two-mile oval.

It should be a great weekend of racing at Auto Club, as it was in Las Vegas and Phoenix. After these past two weeks, Harvick has to be the favorite coming in.  But don’t count out Kyle Larson, who finished second last season to Kyle Busch, who won’t be racing this upcoming weekend due to his injury.

But if we learned one thing this weekend in the desert, it is this: Harvick is the hottest driver the sport has seen in a long time. And nobody would be surprised if he won this week in Fontana.


Davey Segal is the host of Victory Lane for Impact Sports