Harvick loses out but doesn't regret four-tire gamble at Phoenix

Matt Thacker/Motorsport Images

Harvick loses out but doesn't regret four-tire gamble at Phoenix


Harvick loses out but doesn't regret four-tire gamble at Phoenix


Kevin Harvick lamented a missed opportunity Sunday at Phoenix Raceway by missing out on a victory, but didn’t question the pit call that lost him the race lead.

“It’s what I would have done,” Harvick said of the No.4 Stewart-Haas Racing team taking four tires on the final pit stop. “I’d always rather be on offense. I just didn’t get a couple of cars when that first caution came out, and kind of lost our chance. And still thought I had a chance there at the end; those cars were quite a bit slower, but they get all jammed up, and that’s the way it goes.”

He came off pit road seventh, the first driver on four tires. The nine-time Phoenix winner was running away with the race when the caution flew with 11 laps to go after Harrison Burton spun down the frontstretch.

The race restarted with three laps to go, and Harvick was lined up on the inside lane. He did his best to charge forward in Turns 1 and 2 but didn’t make up any ground before the caution flew because of an AJ Allmendinger spin.

The No. 4 lined up eighth, on the outside lane, for the overtime restart. He finished fifth.

“Just smoked ’em up until the caution,” Harvick said. “They did a great job with our Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang and just didn’t need the caution at the end.”

A strong third stage put Harvick in a position to win the race. He was routinely one of the best drivers on long runs and kept pace with the Hendrick Motorsports cars of Larson and William Byron by the end of the second stage.

The final round of green flag pits with under 70 laps to go gave Harvick and his team their opening to make a move. Rodney Childers pitted the car a lap before leader Larson, eliminating their gap.

Harvick’s pit stop was 11.1s to Larson’s 12.6s. Before the pit stop, they were 1.2s behind Larson but a few car lengths behind afterward.

Harvick took the lead from the No. 5 with 44 laps to go. He had easily driven away with the lead before the Burton caution changed the race’s complexion.

“That one is not fun to swallow,” Harvick said. “We had a great car and didn’t need that caution at the end. We had a strong car and a chance to win. Just hate missing an opportunity when you have a car that strong.”