Harvick Grabs Phoenix Win as Tenure with RCR Nears Finish

Photo- Getty Images
Photo- Getty Images

As 13 successful years with Richard Childress Racing comes to a close for Kevin Harvick, he potentially got one last win with the team on Sunday. It was his second straight victory in the November Phoenix event and once again on Sunday, the win came with a dramatic turn of events. Harvick didn’t have the lead until the final lap after Carl Edwards ran out of fuel just one lap short of victory.

The championship picture could have gone many different ways today, but the race ended with Jimmie Johnson owning a commanding 28 point lead over Matt Kenseth. Johnson retains his spot on top of the standings for the second straight week, but this race could have easily gone wrong for the No.48 team.

It all started on the first lap when Johnson, the pole-sitter, went too high in the first corner and almost slid into Denny Hamlin. Later that lap, Johnson tried to regain traction but Joey Logano gave him a tap in turn 3 that almost sent Johnson around. After that, the race calmed down considerably for Johnson.

Harvick went to the lead for the first time on the lap 56 restart. He was out front until he pitted under a lap 100 caution. His team went on a different strategy from there and ultimately, it worked out.

Cautions flew frequently over the next one hundred laps and that led to more diverse strategies on pit road. Many drivers including Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, and Joey Logano took turns out front throughout that portion of the race.

During the caution cycle, Jimmie Johnson found himself in another dangerous position on lap 163. Harvick, Edwards, and Johnson went three-wide into turn 1 and Edwards got a tad bit loose. He slid up into Johnson who miraculously saved his sliding car. Johnson lost many positions, but he was able to recover by the finish.

Most drivers made their final green-flag stops of the day around 70 laps to go. Harvick did not, however as his pitting strategy continued to play out. Carl Edwards found himself out front with 36 laps to go, but he needed to save fuel in order to have shot at the win.

It looked as Edwards would take the victory, but he didn’t save enough fuel as he ran out coming to the white flag. Harvick then took the lead and eventually the checkered flag.

This was Harvick’s fourth victory of the season. Mathematically he still has a shot at 34 points back of the championship, but it will take a mistake by Johnson and Kenseth for the No.29 to steal the title.

Jimmie Johnson ended up third as Kenseth finished 23rd. The championship race took a big swing in favor of the No.48 team Sunday afternoon as 28 points now separate the top two. Kenseth wasn’t on his game which caused his title hopes to slip farther away. He still has a shot next weekend, but a bad day will need to be in-store for Johnson in order for him to take the crown.

The season will wrap up next weekend at Homestead-Miami as one final race awaits the championship contenders. Johnson needs to place higher than 23rd at Homestead for his sixth title.

Results via ESPN.com

POS DRIVER MANUFACTURER

LAPS

MONEY

START

LED

PTS

BONUS

PENALTY

1 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet

312

 

9

70

48

5

0

2 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet

312

 

7

41

43

1

0

3 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet

312

 

1

1

42

1

0

4 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet

312

 

11

2

41

1

0

5 Kurt Busch Chevrolet

312

 

8

0

39

0

0

6 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet

312

 

19

0

38

0

0

7 Kyle Busch Toyota

312

 

4

0

37

0

0

8 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota

312

 

10

0

36

0

0

9 Joey Logano Ford

312

 

3

33

36

1

0

10 Ryan Newman Chevrolet

312

 

17

31

35

1

0

11 Brad Keselowski Ford

312

 

12

27

34

1

0

12 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford

312

 

27

0

32

0

0

13 Greg Biffle Ford

312

 

18

1

32

1

0

14 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet

312

 

5

49

31

1

0

15 Mark Martin Chevrolet

312

 

16

0

29

0

0

16 Paul Menard Chevrolet

312

 

13

0

28

0

0

17 Jeff Burton Chevrolet

312

 

15

0

27

0

0

18 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet

312

 

36

1

27

1

0

19 Aric Almirola Ford

312

 

21

0

25

0

0

20 Clint Bowyer Toyota

312

 

6

0

24

0

0

21 Carl Edwards Ford

312

 

23

36

24

1

0

22 Bobby Labonte Toyota

311

 

26

0

22

0

0

23 Matt Kenseth Toyota

311

 

14

0

21

0

0

24 David Gilliland Ford

311

 

33

2

21

1

0

25 Elliott Sadler Toyota

311

 

22

0

0

0

0

26 Marcos Ambrose Ford

311

 

20

0

18

0

0

27 Casey Mears Ford

311

 

30

0

17

0

0

28 Denny Hamlin Toyota

311

 

2

18

17

1

0

29 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet

311

 

35

0

15

0

0

30 Dave Blaney Chevrolet

310

 

42

0

14

0

0

31 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet

309

 

25

0

0

0

0

32 Michael McDowell Ford

308

 

39

0

12

0

0

33 Danica Patrick Chevrolet

302

 

32

0

11

0

0

34 Timmy Hill Ford

285

 

38

0

10

0

0

35 David Ragan Ford

282

 

34

0

9

0

0

36 Josh Wise Ford

280

 

28

0

0

0

0

37 Reed Sorenson Ford

266

 

24

0

0

0

0

38 Joe Nemechek Toyota

193

 

43

0

0

0

0

39 David Reutimann Toyota

187

 

37

0

5

0

0

40 Cole Whitt Toyota

142

 

29

0

0

0

0

41 Travis Kvapil Toyota

129

 

31

0

3

0

0

42 Landon Cassill Chevrolet

63

 

40

0

0

0

0

43 Tony Raines Chevrolet

29

 

41

0

0

0

0

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