Harvick dominant in Phoenix win|
Avondale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Harvick won his first race with
Stewart-Haas Racing after putting on a dominating performance in Sunday's The
Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Harvick, who made his second start as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for SHR,
led 224 of 312 laps. It was the fifth time he has won a Sprint Cup race at
Phoenix, which moved him ahead of Jimmie Johnson for most victories here.
The final 65 laps around this 1-mile oval featured four cautions. Harvick
pulled away from the field on each of the last four restarts, including the
final one with nine laps to go. He beat last week's Daytona 500 winner Dale
Earnhardt Jr. at the finish by a half-second to earn his 24th career victory
in NASCAR's premier series.
"Man, this is awesome," Harvick joyfully shouted in victory lane.
He joined Earnhardt as those drivers who have all but clinched a berth in this
year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. During the offseason, NASCAR
made changes to the Chase format, expanding the field of drivers/teams from 12
to 16. The top-15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races will
become eligible for the playoffs, provided they have finished in the top-30 in
points. The 16th and final position will go to the driver who is the highest
in points without a victory.
Harvick has now won three of the last four races at Phoenix. He scored the
victory in the fall 2012 event here. Four months ago, Carl Edwards held the
lead late in the Phoenix race, but Edwards ran out of fuel with less than two
laps to go, allowing second-place runner Harvick to take the top spot for
good. It was Harvick's penultimate race with Richard Childress Racing.
He spent 13 years with RCR, driving the No. 29 Chevrolet in Sprint Cup.
Last July, SHR announced that Harvick would drive the No. 4 car for the team,
beginning in 2014.
"I just have to thank everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing," Harvick said. "To add
an extra team, bring in a bunch of new guys, new driver, [crew chief] Rodney
Childers has just done a phenomenal job of putting this team together. These
guys all want to win. That is why they came here. That's why I came here
Harvick finished 13th in his debut with SHR in the Daytona 500.
Earnhardt was hoping to win back-to-back races for the first time in his
Sprint Cup career. He snapped a 55-race winless streak in the series at
"I would have loved to have won the race, am a little disappointed to have
come that close," Earnhardt said. "But our team is performing so well. Got a
lot of great chemistry and good communication going back and forth.
Everybody's confidence is very high. Everybody's mood and morale is really
Brad Keselowski, the pole sitter, finished third. On Friday, Keselowski won
the inaugural knockout-style of qualifying in Sprint Cup after setting a new
track record at Phoenix. He also finished third at Daytona.
"It feels good to run up front, be competitive," Keselowski said. "Under this
system [new Chase format], wins are only things that count. Last year, you
would have said seconds and thirds are great, but this year they're not.
Joey Logano finished fourth after leading 71 laps earlier in the race. Jeff
Gordon was fifth, followed by Johnson, the six-time and defending series
champion, and Ryan Newman.
Edwards, who won this race one year ago, Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray
completed the top-10.
03/02 20:42:52 ET