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Harvick Wins Phoenix, Makes It Three Straight In ’18

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 11 2018

Kevin Harvick won again on Sunday. This time at the Phoenix half-mile oval. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

RacinToday.com

Kevin Harvick won his third-straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday when he eased away from Kyle Busch over the closing laps at the half-mile oval in Phoenix.

It was the Stewart-Haas Racing driver’s ninth victory at the Phoenix track. It was his 30th career victory in Cup and came after dominating wins the last two weeks in Las Vegas and Atlanta.

The win was nowhere near the dominating variety as Busch, who led  124 laps, finished second in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, just over a second back of the lead.

“To come here and a race track that is so good for us, is a lot of fun,” Harvick said. “Everybody was just determined this week. We just wanted to go stomp ’em. We didn’t stomp them but we won and that’s all that matters.”

The comes one week after his controversial win in Las Vegas – a win that was marred after Harvick and his team were heavily penalized for running an illegal car a couple of days after the race.

“I’ve been mad as all get-out,” Harvick said, adding that the penalties “really pissed me off.”

Busch said there was simply no way to catch Harvick over the final laps, let alone pass him.

“Before the race, I knew the 4 car (Harvick) had the car to beat,” he said. “I didn’t think we were going to be the second-best car today though we actually had a shot to race him and out-race him and beat him but it just didn’t work out, obviously. Our (final) pit stop wasn’t stellar. I got back up through there pretty good and got relatively close.”

Third was Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports was third while Denny Hamlin was fourth for JGR.

“It was solid,” Elliott said. “A lot better than we have been for sure.  We are just trying to gain.  The guys did a good job, Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made a good call, had a good pit stop there at the end to get us the lead.  Just didn’t have what I needed to stay in front of Kevin (Harvick) for that long, there were a lot of laps left.  We gave it our best effort today.”

Defending Series champion Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five.

Pole-winner Kyle Larson led 52 of the first 54 laps. But on lap 56, he was passed by Busch, who went on to win the first stage.

Busch stayed at the front until there were just a couple laps to go in Stage 2. Then, during yellow flag stops, Kurt Busch took the lead and won the stage.

Kurt Busch quickly pitted after winning the stage and little brother went back to the lead with 155 to go.

With 124 to go, Harvick cut the dogleg on the back stretch and moved past Busch and into the lead.

With 120 to go, Paul Menard spun and crashed and that sent the field to the pits. William Byron emerge first and Aric Almirola second after taking just two tires. Kyle Busch came out third and Harvick fourth.

With 112 to go, Harvick cleared Busch for third. Also going past Kyle Busch was Hamlin. A couple laps later, Hamlin moved past Harvick and into third place behind the two two-tire guys – Byron and Almirola.

Hamlin quickly moved past Almirola and moved in on Byron. With 103 laps to go, Hamlin passed for the lead. Harvick quickly moved to second and then moved to Hamlin’s rear bumper.

With 84 laps to go, Kyle Busch moved in on Harvick’s rear bumper and it became a three-car race. With 72 laps to go, Kyle Busch moved past Harvick and into third. Moving in to make it a four-car race was Elliott.

With 69 laps to go, Kyle Busch moved past teammate Hamlin and into the lead. A lap later, Harvick passed Hamlin and into second. A lap later, Elliott moved past Hamlin.

With 60 laps remaining, green-flag stops began.

Elliott came in while running third with 57 to go. Harvick and Hamlin came in with 56 to go.

Busch pitted with 53 to go.

Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski opted to not join in the pitting and were running first and second respectively but on old tires. Keselowski pitted with 27 to go and that put Harvick second and Kyle Busch third and 11 and 12 seconds behind Newman respectively.

With 23 to go, Newman pitted and Harvick had his lead back. Busch was .8 seconds behind. He never got much closer.

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Avondale, Arizona

Sunday, March 11, 2018

  1. (10) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 312.
  2. (7) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 312.
  3. (3) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 312.
  4. (6) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 312.
  5. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 312.
  6. (19) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 312.
  7. (22) Aric Almirola, Ford, 312.
  8. (15) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 312.
  9. (9) Erik Jones, Toyota, 312.
  10. (23) Kurt Busch, Ford, 312.
  11. (13) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 312.
  12. (11) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 312.
  13. (4) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 312.
  14. (17) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrol
| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 11 2018
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