NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

 
    === Harvick wins Phoenix, Keselowski takes points lead to Homestead ===
 
 Avondale, AZ (Sports Network) - Kevin Harvick snapped a 44-race winless streak
 and  Brad Keselowski captured  the points lead in what turned out to be a wild
 and chaotic Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
 
 Sunday's  AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix ran relatively incident and drama-free until
 lap  235 when  points  leader Jimmie  Johnson blew  his  right-front tire  and
 smacked the outside wall, damaging the front suspension on his No. 48 Hendrick
 Motorsports  Chevrolet. Johnson,  who  entered this  race  with a  seven-point
 advantage  over Keselowski,  spent 38 laps in the garage for repairs before he
 returned and then finished 32nd.
 
 Keselowski  finished sixth  and took a 20-point lead over the five-time Sprint
 Cup  champion.  Keselowski will  clinch  his  first championship  in  NASCAR's
 premier  series  if he finishes 15th  or better in next Sunday's season-ending
 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, regardless of Johnson's performance.
 
 "We  still  have to  go to  Homestead and  race, and  anything can happen down
 there," Johnson said. "It's not the position we want to be in leaving Phoenix.
 I  feel terrible for my team and how hard these guys work. I just hate how our
 day turned out."
 
 Johnson's  late-race  crash was just  the start of  the drama that occurred at
 this flat one-mile racetrack.
 
 In  the  closing laps  of this  scheduled 312-lap race,  Clint Bowyer and Jeff
 Gordon made contact while battling for position. Gordon had a tire go down and
 then hit the wall.
 
 Right  after  the incident, Gordon  retaliated against Bowyer by intentionally
 wrecking  him  between turns three  and four.  Both drivers ended up crashing,
 with  Joey Logano and  Aric Almirola being caught up in the wreck. The caution
 came  just before Harvick crossed the line to take the white flag and complete
 the second-to-last lap as the leader.
 
 A  huge brawl  between the crew members  of Bowyer and Gordon's team ensued on
 pit  road. Bowyer drove to pit road, hopped out of his heavily-damaged car and
 then  sprinted towards Gordon's hauler, but NASCAR officials prevented another
 incident between the two from happening.
 
 "For (Gordon) to act like that, I barely touched him, and then he tried to get
 into  turn three and  turn me, but he missed," Bowyer said. "Next thing I know
 I'm being told on the radio that he's waiting on me. It makes us all look like
 a bunch of retards. It's pretty embarrassing for a four-time champion and what
 I  consider as  one of the best this  sport has ever seen to act like that. It
 was completely ridiculous."
 
 Gordon  and  Bowyer as well  as their crew chiefs  were summoned to the NASCAR
 hauler  for a  discussion. Several  police  officers stood  guard outside  the
 hauler as the meeting took place.
 
 "Things  have escalated  over the year, and  I have just had it," Gordon said.
 "Clint  has run  into me numerous times, wrecked  me and he got into me on the
 back  straightaway, pretty much  ruined our day. I've had it, and I was fed up
 with it and got him back."
 
 NASCAR  will further  investigate the incident later this week before deciding
 to issue any penalties.
 
 "There's a lot of tension out there when you're running for the points and the
 championship,   and  things  like  that  happen,"  NASCAR  vice  president  of
 competition  Robin Pemberton  said. "We'll continue to talk to the drivers and
 get them to work it out. That was surely a shame."
 
 The four-car crash forced NASCAR to halt the race briefly. While under the red
 flag,  Harvick's No.  29 Richard Childress Racing team argued with NASCAR that
 Harvick  crossed  the line before  the caution,  and therefore the race should
 have  ended  under caution.  He passed  Kyle Busch  for the  lead just after a
 restart on lap 304.
 
 Harvick's  team  was also concerned  that he might run  out of fuel before the
 finish.
 
 The  race  concluded with  a  green-white-checkered  finish. After  the  final
 restart,  Harvick  pulled away from the  field in turn one, but Danica Patrick
 spun around in turn three. NASCAR did not display the caution flag.
 
 "Obviously,  we didn't want to see the red flag," Harvick said. "We were about
 five feet. Someone can tell me where the caution came out. But when I came by,
 I  saw the  caution light come on, and  I saw the flag before we had gotten to
 the  start-finish line. At that point, you think about, man, it's 2012, what's
 going to go wrong and where are we going to run out of gas.
 
 "Once I got those thoughts out of my head, I just wanted to get a good restart
 and  be  able to get  into turn one  and not have any  mistakes and knew if we
 could  get  through there without  any mistakes that we  could at least have a
 fighting chance of taking control of the bottom of the racetrack in turn three
 and four."
 
 As  Harvick crossed  the  finish  line in  first,  another multi-car  accident
 occurred on the frontstretch. Keselowski avoided being caught up in the crash.
 
 "I raced pretty hard last week at Texas and a couple of guys gave me flack for
 it,  but there's  a difference  between racing  hard and  what we  saw today,"
 Keselowski  said.  "That was borderline  ridiculous at times. But we survived,
 and  I'm proud  of my team for that.  I felt very lucky to make it through all
 the carnage today."
 
 Harvick  claimed his  19th career Sprint Cup victory but his first since Sept.
 2011  at Richmond. It was also team owner Richard Childress' maiden victory of
 the season in Cup.
 
 "It was an interesting day to say the least," Harvick said.
 
 Denny  Hamlin finished second, while Busch ended up in third. Busch started on
 the pole and dominated most of this race by leading 237 of 319 laps.
 
 Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five.
 
 Greg  Biffle, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Mark Martin finished seventh through
 10th, respectively.
 
 11/11 21:19:16 ET

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