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Harvick outruns Earnhardt in Phoenix

His first ever win for Stewart Haas Racing
Sunday, March 02, 2014

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Harvick leads
Getty Images for NASCAR

In a race that began with an air of inevitability as thick as the storm clouds that pelted Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, Kevin Harvick survived a succession of late restarts to win Sunday's The Profit on CNBC 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

In his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing and his first with crew chief Rodney Childers, Harvick entered the race as an overwhelming favorite and delivered, despite the best efforts of Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who chased Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet to the checkered flag.

Having shown his speed by pacing both Saturday practice sessions, before the rain came, Harvick led 224 of the 312 laps at the one-mile track, including the final 24, leaving Earnhardt to battle with front row starters Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, who finished third and fourth, respectively, for Team Penske.

The victory was a record fifth for Harvick at Phoenix; he also won the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the one-mile track in November. The 38-year-old driver from Bakersfield, Calif., won for the 24th time in 468 career starts.

No. 88 Earnhardt had nothing for Harvick
Getty Images for NASCAR
"Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions," said Harvick, who left Richard Childress Racing after 13 seasons to make the move to Stewart-Haas. "It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in--but what a race car."

In Harvick’s view, the victory vindicated his decision to change teams.

"Rodney Childers has just done a phenomenal job of putting this team together," Harvick said. "These guys all want to win. That’s why they came here. That’s why I came here, too.

"I’ve just got to thank (owners) Gene (Haas) and Tony (Stewart), and (Stewart’s business manager) Eddie Jarvis. In 2012 I told (Jarvis) it would be fun to have Tony and I on the same team, and here we are in Victory Lane."

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson finished fifth and sixth, with Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray completing the top 10.

Even though Earnhardt had his best speed of the day on his last set of tires, Harvick was able to keep him at bay through four cautions and subsequent restarts in the last 65 laps of the race.

Earnhardt worked his way clear of the Penske cars after the final restart on Lap 304 but ran out of time in his pursuit of the race winner, who arrived at the finish line 0.489 seconds ahead of the No. 88 Chevrolet.

"We got running side-by-side there for second and just let Kevin get out there a little too far," Earnhardt said of the final restart. "I thought we were running him down those last few laps, but we were just too far away.

"It was a great job by Kevin and his whole team. They did a great job all weekend. They were fast. We worked on our car. We got a little help from our teammates, and it was a lot of hard work to get better and better. I ended up where I thought we should have finished.

"We were a little faster at the end, but they were stellar—impressive as heck all weekend. I hope everybody enjoyed the race. We were really working our butts off there and giving it everything we had."

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – WINNER
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS WIN FOR YOU IN JUST YOUR SECOND RACE WITH STEWART-HAAS RACING?
“Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. I’ve just got to thank all these guys at Stewart-Haas Racing and I’d like to thank Sprint and the fans; Jimmy John’s, Budweiser, Outback, Chevrolet, and everybody who makes this thing go ‘round. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys have put in, but what a race car.”

YOU HAD A DOMINANT CAR, BUT DID THOSE CAUTION FLAGS MAKE YOU A LITTLE BIT NERVOUS?
“It did because the No. 22 (Joey Logano) was able to time the restarts there and I knew that what was going to happen was he was going to take a shot down low. So, I tried to do the best I could. I’m just really happy and thank everybody at the Hendrick engine shop and all these cars sharing information. Dale Junior racing there for second was a lot of fun. Man, this is awesome!”

VICTORY LANE AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY ONE MORE TIME:
“Well I just have to thank everybody on this Jimmy John’s Chevrolet for all the work and effort and really everybody at Stewart-Haas.  To add an extra team, bring in a bunch of new guys, new driver, 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 is why I came here too.  I just got to thank Gene (Haas) and Tony (Stewart), Eddie Jarvis, in 2012 I told him it would be fun to have Tony and I on the same team and here we are in Victory Lane.”

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
YOU DID EVERYTHING YOU COULD BUT JUST DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH:
“Yeah we had a great car.  (Kevin) Harvick was so fast all weekend, congratulations to him and his whole team.  They did an awesome job getting ready for this race and were just fast out of the gate.  We got a little bit better; we leaned on our teammates and got the car a lot better.  Steve (Letarte) and those guys just keep getting better and better.  These cars I’m driving I think are the best in the garage.  Right at the end of the race I think we were a little bit quicker than Kevin (Harvick).  Just real, real happy with the cars, just hate to come home second, but that No. 4 car was quick all week.”

IT SEEMED LIKE YOUR BEST SHOT WAS GOING TO BE THAT LAST RESTART, WHICH GOT A LITTLE DICEY
“Yeah, we got running side-by-side there for second and just let Kevin (Harvick) get out there a little too far. I thought we were running him down those last few laps but we were just too far away. It was a great job by Kevin and his whole team. They did a great job all weekend. They were fast. We worked on our car. We got a little help from our teammates and it was a lot of hard work to get better and get better. I ended up where I thought we should have finished. We were a little faster at the end, but they were stellar; impressive as heck all weekend. I’m happy with National Guard, Diet Mountain Dew, Kelly Blue Book and Chevrolet. I hope everybody enjoyed the race. We were really working out butts of there and giving it everything we had.”

Results

Pos Car # Driver Make Start Laps Laps Led Status
1 4 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 13 312 224 Running
2 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 5 312 0 Running
3 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 1 312 3 Running
4 22 Joey Logano Ford 2 312 71 Running
5 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 17 312 4 Running
6 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 4 312 0 Running
7 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 15 312 6 Running
8 99 Carl Edwards Ford 23 312 1 Running
9 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 7 312 0 Running
10 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 3 312 0 Running
11 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 11 312 0 Running
12 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 19 312 0 Running
13 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 14 312 1 Running
14 13 Casey Mears Chevrolet 18 312 0 Running
15 43 Aric Almirola Ford 9 312 0 Running
16 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 20 312 0 Running
17 16 Greg Biffle Ford 6 312 0 Running
18 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 21 312 0 Running
19 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 12 312 0 Running
20 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 8 312 0 Running
21 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 29 311 0 Running
22 78 Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 27 311 0 Running
23 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 22 311 0 Running
24 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 24 311 0 Running
25 55 Brian Vickers Toyota 16 311 0 Running
26 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 25 310 0 Running
27 26 Cole Whitt Toyota 31 310 0 Running
28 34 David Ragan Ford 30 310 0 Running
29 38 David Gilliland Ford 28 309 2 Running
30 51 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 43 309 0 Running
31 36 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 39 308 0 Running
32 33 Brian Scott Chevrolet 32 308 0 Running
33 95 Michael McDowell Ford 26 307 0 Running
34 7 Michael Annett Chevrolet 41 307 0 Running
35 83 Ryan Truex Toyota 34 307 0 Running
36 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 33 306 0 Running
37 35 Blake Koch Ford 37 306 0 Running
38 32 Travis Kvapil Ford 40 302 0 Running
39 41 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 10 292 0 Engine
40 66 Joe Nemechek Toyota 38 292 0 Running
41 23 Alex Bowman Toyota 35 230 0 Brakes
42 30 Parker Kligerman Toyota 36 226 0 Engine
43 87 Morgan Shepherd Toyota 42 28 0 Brakes

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