Harvick wins at Phoenix again, Johnson takes 28-point lead|
Avondale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Harvick won the Chase race at Phoenix
International Raceway for the second year in a row, while Jimmie Johnson took
a big step towards claiming his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship with a
third-place finish in Sunday's AdvoCare 500.
Johnson grabbed a 28-point lead over Matt Kenseth, who finished one lap behind
in 23rd after dealing with an ill-handling car throughout this 312-lap race.
Kenseth had been seven points behind. If Johnson finishes 23rd or better in
next weekend's season-finale at Homestead, he will clinch the title,
regardless of what Kenseth or any other driver does.
"We're heading into Homestead in the position we want to be in," Johnson said.
"I'll have to go down there and run 400 miles. It's far from over. You've got
to finish that race. Although we have a nice cushion, we still have to go down
there and take care of business."
Johnson had two dramatic moments on the track when he was almost involved in
an incident. He started on the pole, but Denny Hamlin pulled ahead of him on
the opening lap to take the lead. Joey Logano then bumped Johnson from behind,
which moved him up the track and shuffled him back to sixth.
Just before a caution on lap 163, forced when J.J. Yeley spun around, Edwards
and Johnson made contact. Johnson nearly wrecked, as he fell back to 26th.
"The race was challenging," Johnson said. "Everybody says it's a short event
here, but man, it seemed like it took 600 miles worth of time to get through
this race. We had a very strong race car, so that made life a lot easier,
especially comparing this effort to last year's effort in the Chase. We did
what we should have."
In last year's Chase race at Phoenix, Johnson blew a tire and crashed into the
wall, which led to a 32nd-place finish and put him 20 points behind then
leader Brad Keselowski. One week later, Keselowski clinched the series title
Edwards, who won at Phoenix in March, held the lead late in the race, but
Edwards ran out of fuel just before he crossed the line to complete the
second-to-last lap. That allowed second-place runner Harvick to take over the
top spot. Harvick then beat Kasey Kahne at the finish by 1.8 seconds.
"I wasn't really expecting that," Harvick said about Edwards running out of
fuel. "We had a really, really fast car all day. We were able to make our
ground through traffic. It was just a great day."
Harvick claimed his fourth victory of the season, including his second in the
Chase, and the 23rd of his Sprint Cup career. He won the Oct. 6 race at
Kansas. Johnson, Kenseth and Harvick, who is 34 points out of the lead, are
the only drivers who remain eligible for the championship heading to
"That's all you can ask for is just to be in it," Harvick said. "Obviously,
there's going to have to be a lot that happens. But anything can happen. You
got to be in it to win it. We've done a good job in winning races in the
Chase. We'll see what happens."
Harvick is in his last season with Richard Childress Racing before he moves
over to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season. He led the most laps in this
race with 70. It was his fourth Sprint Cup win at Phoenix, which placed him in
a tie with Johnson for most victories here.
After Yeley's incident, Kenseth had a very slow pit stop (25 seconds) when
there was confusion on his team about their tire change. An air hose was
caught under one of his tires during the stop as well. Kenseth had been
running in the top-10 before pitting but returned to the track in 29th.
"We still got a week to go," Kenseth said. "Hopefully, we can contend for a
win at Homestead."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth, followed by Kurt Busch and Juan Pablo
Montoya. Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Ryan Newman completed
Edwards finished as the last car on the lead lap in 21st.
"I tried to save a couple of laps, but the 29 (Harvick) was catching me,"
Edwards said. "I don't know if I could have save two laps in hindsight. I did
not think I was going to run out of fuel. These Fords get such good fuel
mileage. That's the first time I've run out in a long time."
11/10 20:35:11 ET