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Harvick Dominating In Victory In Las Vegas

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 8 2015

Kevin Harvick got his first victory of the year Sunday when he came up a winner in Vegas. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett)

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Kevin Harvick, who posted runner-up finishes in the first two Sprint Cup Series races of the season, won Race No. 3 on the 2015 schedule by dominating at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Harvick, last year’s Cup champion, led 142 laps en route to the victory in his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. The victory was the 29th of his career but first at Las Vegas.

“So cool to win here in Las Vegas,” Harvick said. “To start this West Coast (the next two races are in Phoenix and California) swing out the way is pretty awesome. Very special to win here.”

Finishing second was Martin Truex Jr. in the Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.

Third was Ryan Newman in a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet while Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin was fifth in a Toyota.

Rounding out the top 10 were A.J. Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano.

Harvick took the lead for the final time with 16 laps to go. He grabbed the final lead as a host of drivers who gambled by pitting out of sequence began heading toward the pits for fuel.

The margin of victory was 1.6 seconds even though he reported problems with his car over the final 10 laps.

“I don’t know (what was wrong) but it wasn’t right,” Harvick said of his car. “We were able to hang onto it and have a good enough lead to where we could pace ourselves and be able to keep the lead.”

A couple of drivers who had decent chances to deprive Harvick of the victory tangled with each other on Lap 192 of the 267-lap race when Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards began bumping and retaliating.

Six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who won a week ago in Atlanta, also was taken out of contention when he twice had tire problems that sent him into walls. He had led 45 laps prior to his meetings with the walls.

“Yeah, the first one,” Johnson said, “they said the bead blew on it. We don’t have any brake temp here, so I don’t know what could have caused that. That’s kind of a freak deal. The second one, it went soft. So there could have been some damage that caused it or some rub or something like that, and it went soft going into Turn 3 and I hit the wall, unfortunately. I’m disappointed. We certainly had an awesome race car.”

For the third week in a row, Jeff Gordon’s farewell season took a disappointing hit. Gordon, who won the pole at Vegas on Friday but was forced to start from the rear of the field after getting caught up in a wreck in practice, had worked his way into the top 10 Sunday. But when teammate Johnson suffered his first tire problem/wall slap, Gordon became an innocent victim as he ran into the back of Jeb Burton, who had slowed up behind Johnson’s wreck.

Damage to the nose of his car slowed Gordon’s effort and he began falling back. He finished 18th.

“I was right behind Jeb getting ready to make a move on him,” Gordon said, “I wasn’t sure about inside or outside and all of a sudden he started checking up. I thought he was doing it to let me go by him.”

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 8 2015
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