There are some days where a driver dominates and then there are some when a driver annihilates the field. Kevin Harvick had a stellar day in the desert on Sunday. Once he got out front early in the event, he didn’t look back for a second. He was able to control the race and at the end of the day, that put him in victory lane for the third time in the last four Phoenix races. His sponsor Jimmy John’s has the catch phrase “freaky-fast” which describes their service, but in this race it was describing the man behind the wheel.
It was Joey Logano leading the race early when he got out front on Lap 1 and led for a majority of the first 100 laps. Harvick was the only driver able to pass Logano as the No.4 car made it to the lead for the first time on Lap 74.
While Stewart-Haas Racing had Harvick dominating, a few of their other drivers suffered issues throughout the race. Danica Patrick was caught up in a three car wreck on Lap 171. She suffered enough damage to keep her No.10 machine behind for the rest of the race.
Kurt Busch’s day took a turn for the worse when he went down a cylinder in the second half of the event. That eventually led to Busch blowing his motor with only 16 laps to go.
Busch’s problem brought out one of the multiple late-race cautions which continued to stack the field up and made for some wild restarts. Harvick maintained the lead through the chaos and held off a hard-charging Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the closing laps.
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave Harvick the most trouble on the final restart when he was able to keep up with Harvick at first, but eventually lost ground. Earnhardt Jr. did come home with a second place finish though, putting his season off to a great start.
Once Harvick got a big enough lead, he was able to cruise to the finish in the final laps. With the victory, Harvick has one win towards the Chase which will more than likely earn him a spot in the playoffs. “This (win) solidifies so many things” Harvick said in victory lane. With a victory under his belt, Harvick does not have to worry about making the Chase, so the No.4 team’s approach changes from needing to win to just competing hard for one week after week.
Next week’s race at Las Vegas provides opportunity for possibly a third different winner this season. If another driver takes victory, they will join Earnhardt Jr. and Harvick as locks for the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Results via ESPN.com
|2||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||312||5||0||42||0||0|
|18||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||312||21||0||26||0||0|
|22||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevrolet||311||27||0||22||0||0|