Monday, March 3, 2014

Harvick Dominates in the Desert, Wins at Phoenix

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday after having the most dominant car all weekend.

Kevin Harvick celebrates his first victory with Stewart-Haas Racing after leading 224 of 312 laps (Photo courtesy Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Harvick had the fastest car in both practices during the weekend, but qualified 13th after the debut of NASCAR’s newest qualifying procedure.  He was able to work his way through the field, and passed Joey Logano for the lead on lap 73.

Logano never left the front of the field, and found himself in third during the final restarts.  He was able to give Harvick a run for his money in the final laps.

“The 22 [of Logano] was able to time the restarts there, and I tried the best I could,” Harvick told FOX Sports.

The win was also Harvick’s first with his new team.  Harvick left Richard Childress Racing for Stewart-Haas Racing during the offseason.  After leading 224 of 312 laps, the win reassured everyone that the change was a good one.

“This just solidifies so many things and so many decisions,” Harvick said.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second to continue his momentum from the Daytona 500.  Earnhardt said he may have had something for Harvick if he hadn’t had a side-by-side battle with Brad Keselowski on the final restart.

Photo courtesy Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
“We thought we could run him down there, but he was just too far away,” Earnhardt said.  “We ended up where I thought we should have finished.”

Keselowski and Logano started on the front row, and Logano jumped out to an early lead.  Logano led until Harvick took the lead on lap 73 for the first time.  

Harvick led during the longest green-flag run at Phoenix, until the caution finally flew for debris on lap 161. 

Harvick continued to lead during the following caution periods.  The first came on lap 170 when Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier and Travis Kvapil got together.  Patrick spun again after cutting down a left-rear tire on lap 186 to bring out another caution.

Harvick led through the next round of green-flag pit stops, and Ryan Newman led after pit stops had cycled around.

Newman led until the caution came out on lap 247 for debris, and Harvick returned to the top spot after Newman pitted.

Harvick held off the rest of the field during the final three restarts to win the race.  

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Kevin Harvick
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Joey Logano
5. Jeff Gordon
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. Ryan Newman
8. Carl Edwards
9. Kyle Busch
10. Jamie McMurray
11. Kasey Kahne
12. Matt Kenseth
13. Clint Bowyer
14. Casey Mears
15. Aric Almirola
16. Tony Stewart
17. Greg Biffle
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
19. Denny Hamlin
20. Kyle Larson
21. Marcos Ambrose
22. Martin Truex Jr.
23. Paul Menard
24. Austin Dillon
25. Brian Vickers
26. AJ Allmendinger
27. Cole Whitt
28. David Ragan
29. David Gilliland
30. Justin Allgaier
31. Reed Sorenson
32. Brian Scott
33. Michael McDowell
34. Michael Annett
35. Ryan Truex
36. Danica Patrick
37. Blake Koch
38. Travis Kvapil
39. Kurt Busch
40. Joe Nemechek
41. Alex Bowman
42. Parker Kligerman
43. Morgan Shepherd

Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series stays out west at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The Kobalt 400 will be live next Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Photo courtesy Jerry Markland/Getty Images

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