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Harvick Ekes Out Yet Another Victory In Arizona

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 13 2016
Kevin Harvick nosed across the finish line ahead of Carl Edwards to win the Good Sam 500 at the Phoenix International Speedway on Sunday.  (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

Kevin Harvick nosed across the finish line ahead of Carl Edwards to win the Good Sam 500 at the Phoenix International Speedway on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Kevin Harvick continued to feast on the bright sunshine and low humidity of cactus-dotted Arizona on Sunday as he collected his eighth career win at Phoenix International Raceway.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has now won six of the last eight races at the Phoenix mile.

sprint-logo-08But the latest victory may have been the most exciting as it came by inches after he held off Carl Edwards in a fender bumping, door-banging overtime thriller.

“I just like racing here,” Harvick said. “I feel like I’ve been here enough times to where I can move around and make our car work.”

Edwards was left to rethink the final lap.

“I should have wrecked him,” the Joe Gibbs driver said. “We were faster so I thought, man, I’ll just move him out of the way and get by. I just didn’t move him far enough.”

Denny Hamlin finished third and Kyle Busch fourth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who, like Hamling and Busch, pitted on the final caution, finished fifth.

“I thought that was a good move to not pit,” Earnhardt said. “If a couple more guys don’t pit and we get another guy on the outside in the second row we was in good shape.”

Busch started the race and led the first 74 laps. But a decision by crew chief Adam Stevens to take just two tires on a pit stop 21 laps earlier took a toll as Busch was passed by Earnhardt for the lead on Lap 75 of the 312-lap race.

Also zipping past Busch was teammate Edwards, who, like Earnhardt, had opted for four tires on the preceding pit stop.

On Lap 105, Paul Menard hit the wall to bring out the second caution of the day. The field pitted and coming out first was Edwards. Second was Busch, who took four tires on the stop. Earnhardt was third and Harvick fourth.

Busch’s pit road problems continued on the next pit stops, which occurred during a caution which was called on Lap 162. Busch, who was running second, overshot his stall and ran over the front air hose and had to back up for service. He would restart 16th.

Restarting first was Edwards. Harvick restarted second and Johnson was third.

On the Lap 169 restart, Harvick moved past Edwards and became the fourth driver to lead the race.

On Lap 225, Brad Keselowski blew a tire and out came the yellow flag for the fourth time.

Harvick led the leaders into the pits but it was Edwards who led the field out of the pits.

Harvick restarted second, Logano third and Kyle Busch – who reversed fortunes in the pits, picking up three spots – fourth.

“We’re back in the game,” Stevens told Busch over the radio.

On the restart, Harvick took the lead from the low line heading into Turn 2. Once out front, Harvick moved out to a comfortable lead; with 30 laps to go the lead was just over 2 seconds over Earnhardt Jr.

With six laps to go, however, Kasey Kahne blew a tire, hit the wall and brought out the yellow.

Harvick and second-place Earnhardt stayed out but the other contenders pitted for fuel and tires.

On the restart in overtime, Harvick stayed out front but Edwards moved even on the last lap. The two banged doors, then stayed even before Harvick collected the victory by a couple of inches.

“Well, I knew he was better through (Turns) 3 and 4,” Harvick said. “That was not the car that I wanted to see behind me. I knew I could beat him down there and I tried to protect the bottom in (Turns) 3 and 4 and I just missed the bottom with all the rubber build-up on the tires and everything. But, all in all, I knew I was going to be on defense down there. I got up too high and wasn’t able to stay on the bottom like I wanted to and then he got into me, like he should have, and I needed to get a good run off the corner and I was going to have to get into his door and it worked out, just barely.”

Edwards thought he had a wonderful shot at the victory.

“Well, we were faster, we had tires,” he said. “Dave Rogers (crew chief) made a great call. I got down there and I was going to go around the top and he (Kevin Harvick) moved up so I went to the bottom and I thought, ‘I’m going to move him out of the way,’ but I didn’t want to wreck him. Those guys earned their spot. And, I moved him and it just was a drag race and we just lost it. It was just an awesome race. We had an opportunity to win it. Before that final caution we didn’t have an opportunity. That’s going to be a tough one to swallow but it was a lot of fun.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Good Sam 500

Phoenix International Raceway

Avondale, AZ – 1 Mile Paved

Sunday, March 13, 2016

  1. (18)  Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 313
  2. (2)    Carl Edwards, Toyota, 313
  3. (3)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 313
  4. (1)    Kyle Busch, Toyota, 313
  5. (26)  Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 313
  6. (4)    Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 313
  7. (6)    Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 313
  8. (17)  Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 313
  9. (15)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 313
  10. (12) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 313
  11. (5)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 313
  12. (7)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 313
  13. (14) Aric Almirola, Ford, 313
  14. (8)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 313
  15. (28) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 313
  16. (11) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 313
  17. (22) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 313
  18. (9)  Joey Logano, Ford, 312
  19. (36) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 312
  20. (23) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 312
  21. (13) Greg Biffle, Ford, 312
  22. (24) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 312
  23. (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 311
  24. (29) David Ragan, Toyota, 309
  25. (27) Landon Cassill, Ford, 308
  26. (33) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 308
  27. (30) Brian Scott #, Ford, 308
  28. (31) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 308
  29. (19) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 307
  30. (32) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 307
  31. (35) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 307
  32. (39) Joey Gase(i), Ford, 305
  33. (38) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 303
  34. (37) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 303
  35. (25) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 268
  36. (34) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 236
  37. (10) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 161
  38. (16) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 104
  39. (20) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 51

Average Speed: 113.212 MPH

Time of Race:   2 Hrs, 45 Mins, 53 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.010 Seconds

Caution Flags:  5 for 30 laps

Lead Changes: 7 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders: Kyle Busch 1-74; D. Earnhardt Jr. 75-108; C. Edwards 109-163; Kyle Busch 164; C. Edwards 165-168; K. Harvick 169-228; C. Edwards 229-234; K. Harvick 235-313.

Leaders Summary: (Drivers, Times, Laps Led): K. Harvick 2 times for 139 laps; K. Busch 2 times for 75 laps; C. Edwards 3 times for 65 laps; D. Earnhardt Jr. 1 time for 34 laps.

Chase Grid Outlook: 1. K. Harvick 154 (1 wins);2. J. Johnson 140 (1);3. D. Hamlin 131 (1);4. B. Keselowski 110 (1);5. Kyle Busch 154 (0);6. Kurt Busch 137 (0);7. C. Edwards 136 (0);8. J. Logano 127 (0);9. A. Dillon 122 (0);10. M. Truex Jr. 117 (0);11. D. Earnhardt Jr. 115 (0);12.*. Blaney # 104 (0);13. A. Almirola 100 (0);14. K. Kahne 96 (0);15. J. McMurray 94 (0);16. M. Kenseth 90 (0).

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 13 2016
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