Kevin Harvick Wins At Phoenix For Third-Straight Victory

Kevin Harvick wins again at Phoenix
Ralph Garcia/AR1

As the old aphorism goes, there's nothing certain except death and taxes.

After Sunday's TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway, you can add Kevin Harvick at Phoenix to that list.

Harvick beat Kyle Busch to the finish line by .774 seconds to win his third straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series of the season, the first time a driver has strung three victories together since Busch accomplished the feat at Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis.

The victory was a record ninth for Harvick at the one-mile track in the Sonoran Desert and the 40th of his career, third-most among active drivers and tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin for 18th on the all-time victory list.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] But the win was more than a statistical triumph for the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. Harvick came to Phoenix with a chip on his shoulder, stung by a midweek penalty for issues with the roof braces and right rear side skirt extension after last week's race-winning car from Las Vegas.

The infractions cost Harvick's team the benefits of the victory in Sin City and deprived him of the services of car chief Robert "Cheddar" Smith. On the flip side, it lit a fire under the whole organization.

"I've been mad as all get-out because this team does a great job," Harvick said. "This organization does a great job and we've got fast race cars. And to take that away from those guys just really pissed me off last week.

"To come here to a race track that is so good for us is a lot of fun, and everyone was just determined this week, and we just wanted to just go stomp them. We didn't stomp them, but we won. That's all that really matters. Just proud of this team. Put a fire in our belly."

As Harvick indicated, it wasn't the sort of thrashing he engineered at Atlanta and Las Vegas during the winning streak. He started 10th and didn't lead a lap until he charged past Busch through Turn 4 on Lap 179. All told, Harvick led 38 laps, a distant third behind Busch's 128 and Kyle Larson's 54.

Kyle Busch led a race-high 128 laps but a pit-road gaffe with 56 laps to go cost him the lead.
Ralph Garcia/AR1

A mistake on his final green-flag pit stop cost Busch a chance to win the race. Harvick had come to pit road on Lap 256. Four laps later Busch pitted from the lead, but the jack dropped prematurely on the left side of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, costing the 2015 series champion roughly three seconds.

Busch eventually cycled out into second place after passing third-place finisher Chase Elliott, but the pit road mistake left him too far behind Harvick. At one point in the closing laps, Busch cut Harvick's advantage to a half-second as the drivers worked traffic, but he could get no closer.

"Coming into the green flag stops, had a couple guys pit a little bit before us," Busch said. "I don't think that hurt us too bad, but the jack dropping certainly did. We lost the race on pit road today. There's been races where I've won it on pit road, too. We'll just have to go into next week and see what we can do there."

Denny Hamlin ran fourth, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer. Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Kurt Busch completed the top 10, as both Stewart-Haas and Joe Gibbs Racing put all four of their cars in the top 10—Stewart-Haas for the first time in the organization's history.

RACE RESULTS

Fin Str No. Driver Team Laps Status
1 10 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Ford 312 Running
2 7 18 Kyle Busch Skittles Sweet Heat Toyota 312 Running
3 3 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 312 Running
4 6 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 312 Running
5 1 78 Martin Truex Jr. 5-hour Energy/Bass Pro Shops Toyota 312 Running
6 19 14 Clint Bowyer Haas Automation Ford 312 Running
7 22 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 312 Running
8 15 19 Daniel Suárez ARRIS Toyota 312 Running
9 9 20 Erik Jones Sport Clips Toyota 312 Running
10 23 41 Kurt Busch Mobil 1/Haas Automation Ford 312 Running
11 13 31 Ryan Newman Grainger Chevrolet 312 Running
12 11 24 William Byron
AXALTA Chevrolet 312 Running
13 4 88 Alex Bowman Nationwide Chevrolet 312 Running
14 17 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet 312 Running
15 25 2 Brad Keselowski Alliance Truck Parts Ford 312 Running
16 12 12 Ryan Blaney DeVilbiss Ford 311 Running
17 18 3 Austin Dillon Dow Chevrolet 311 Running
18 2 42 Kyle Larson Credit One Bank Chevrolet 311 Running
19 5 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 311 Running
20 21 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 311 Running
21 20 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet 311 Running
22 16 38 David Ragan MDS Transport Ford 311 Running
23 29 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fastenal Ford 311 Running
24 26 95 Kasey Kahne WRL General Contractors Chevrolet 311 Running
25 30 32 Matt DiBenedetto Zynga Poker Ford 311 Running
26 8 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 310 Running
27 36 15 Ross Chastain LowT Center Chevrolet 310 Running
28 27 43 Darrell Wallace Jr.
Click n' Close Chevrolet 309 Running
29 24 37 Chris Buescher Scott Towels Chevrolet 309 Running
30 28 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 309 Running
31 34 96 DJ Kennington Northern Provincial Pipe/Wilride Transport Toyota 309 Running
32 31 34 Michael McDowell K-Love Radio Ford 308 Running
33 35 51 Timmy Hill RWR Chevrolet 306 Running
34 32 23 Gray Gaulding Earthwater Toyota 304 Running
35 37 00 Jeffrey Earnhardt VRX Simulators Chevrolet 292 Running
36 14 21 Paul Menard Menards/Dutch Boy Ford 189 Accident
37 33 72 Corey LaJoie Schluter-Systems Chevrolet 23 Engine

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