Kevin Harvick dominates in Phoenix to take his first win for Stewart-Haas Racing

Kevin Harvick dominates in Phoenix to take his first win for Stewart-Haas Racing

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Kevin Harvick dominates in Phoenix to take his first win for Stewart-Haas Racing

Kevin Harvick claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory for Stewart-Haas at Phoenix in only his second event with the squad.

Ex-Childress driver Harvick was only 13th on the grid after narrowly missing out on a spot in the pole shootout when the series’ new knockout qualifying format made its debut on Friday. He showed his pace by topping both Saturday practice sessions, and wasted no time in surging to the front on race day.

Harvick took the lead on lap 74, and ultimately led 224 of the 312 laps. His main rivals were Penske’s front row qualifiers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, plus Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

But Harvick always had just enough in hand to keep all pursuers at arm’s length, and was helped by their habit of jostling with each other at restarts and letting him escape. He ultimately beat Earnhardt to the win by half a second, as Keselowski pipped Logano for third.

“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 racecar.”

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.”

“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.”

Jeff Gordon slipped past Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman to secure fifth at the final restart.

Results - 312 laps:                                                       
                                                                          
Pos  Driver              Team/Car                    Time/Gap     
 1.  Kevin Harvick       Stewart-Haas Chevrolet  2h51m23.000s                   
 2.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet           +0.490s              
 3.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford                  +1.361s              
 4.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford                  +1.661s              
 5.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet           +2.849s              
 6.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet           +3.328s              
 7.  Ryan Newman         Childress Chevrolet          +4.238s              
 8.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford            +4.347s              
 9.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota             +5.214s              
10.  Jamie McMurray      Ganassi Chevrolet            +5.490s              
11.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet           +6.885s              
12.  Matt Kenseth        Joe Gibbs Toyota             +6.885s              
13.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota               +7.411s              
14.  Casey Mears         Germain Chevrolet            +7.726s              
15.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                   +8.235s              
16.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       +8.381s              
17.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford            +8.753s              
18.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford            +9.229s              
19.  Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota            +12.309s              
20.  Kyle Larson         Ganassi Chevrolet           +12.521s              
21.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                    +1 lap              
22.  Martin Truex Jr     Furniture Row Ford            +1 lap              
23.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet           +1 lap              
24.  Austin Dillon       Childress Chevrolet           +1 lap              
25.  Brian Vickers       Waltrip Toyota               +2 laps              
26.  AJ Allmendinger     JTG Daugherty Chevrolet      +2 laps              
27.  Cole Whitt          Swan Toyota                  +2 laps              
28.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford               +3 laps              
29.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford               +3 laps              
30.  Justin Allgaier     Hscott Chevrolet             +3 laps              
31.  Reed Sorenson       Baldwin Chevrolet            +4 laps              
32.  Brian Scott         Childress Chevrolet          +4 laps              
33.  Michael McDowell    Leavine Ford                 +5 laps              
34.  Michael Annett      Baldwin Chevrolet            +5 laps              
35.  Ryan Truex          BK Toyota                    +5 laps              
36.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       +6 laps              
37.  Blake Koch          Front Row Ford               +6 laps              
38.  Travis Kvapil       Go FAS Ford                 +10 laps              
39.  Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                +20 laps              
                                                                          
                                                                  
Retirements:                                                     
                                                                          
     Kurt Busch          Stewart-Haas Chevrolet      292 laps              
     Alex Bowman         BK Toyota                   230 laps              
     Parker Kligerman    Swan Toyota                 226 laps              
     Morgan Shepherd     Shepherd Toyota              28 laps 
 
 

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