Harvick Dominates Phoenix- Gets Final Spot in Championship Race

Kevin Harvick continued his mastery of the Phoenix International Raceway  today,  winning the Quicken Loans 500 for Heroes. The win also secured him a spot for the championship race next Sunday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was the only way Harvick could have made the finale since he was tied in points with the runner up in the race, Jeff Gordon.  Gordon was tied for fourth in points with Harvick at the end of the day but the win trumps the points thereby eliminating Gordon from the finale.

The final four participants are Harvick, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman.

Harvick was quick all weekend leading  two of the three practice sessions (he was second fastest during the happy hour practice) and started third. Harvick led 264 of the scheduled 312 laps.

“I guess that is what it feels like to hit a walk off in extra innings there,” Harvick said post race. “This thing both races here has just been bad to the bone. Everybody on our Budweiser team has done a great job and here we come Homestead.”

“I could tell that we were probably going to have to win,” he said, “because everybody was running up in the front of the pack that we were racing against. That was our goal coming in here and that’s really the goal every time you come to Phoenix.  This place has just been phenomenal for me personally and for this team this year. To do that in front of all your almost hometown fans and all these people who have been rooting for me since the mid-‘90’s is pretty unbelievable. Man, I think this says a lot about our team. I think we have been through a lot this year. They put our backs against the wall; we put it in Victory Lane and get to go on.”

The final chase position was not determined until the last turn of the last lap as Ryan Newman made contact with Kyle Larson, sending him up the track thereby giving him the position and the 1 point necessary to beat Gordon.

Newman said after the race, “I did what I had to do as clean as I could do it. I’m not the kind of guy to turn somebody, so I just drifted as much as I could to get in there.” He also indicated that he remembered when Larson moved him for a win. “But in the end we fought back hard,” he said. “Did what we had to as clean as I possibly could. I wasn’t proud of it, but I will do what I got to, to make it to this next round. That little boy (Kyle Larson) has got a lot of things coming in this sport. He used me up like that at Eldora in a truck a couple of years ago. From my standpoint I call it even, but I think if he was in my position he would have probably done the same thing.”

Jeff Gordon said, “It’s disappointing. Kevin Harvick was in another zip code. I’m not going to wreck a guy that’s racing me clean all year long just to make it into the Chase. That’s not what it’s all about for me. You’re not going to go win the championship next week by doing that. So, it’s just unfortunate. It’s just unfortunate. We did everything so good this year. That one race, that one race is going to stick with me for a little while. I got over it this week, knowing that we could come here and compete like this. Now it makes it sting that much more. But, I couldn’t be more proud of what this team did this year. What a great season and great race cars. That’s what I’m most disappointed in. I don’t think anybody deserves to be Homestead more than this No. 24 team because of the effort that they put in and the performances that we’ve had. But, you know what? You’ve got to score the points or win the races to get in there and we didn’t do that. So now we’ll go to Homestead and battle hard to try to win that race.”

Finale participants Joey Logano and pole sitter Denny Hamlin had rough days but managed finishes that allowed them to make the championship race. Denny Hamlin suffered from a flat tire and restarted 37th and eventually went a lap down but he managed to claw his way back through traffic to finish fifth. Logano was penalized for taking equipment from his pit stall when the gas can did not fully detach and the can slid just inches outside his pit stall. Eventually Logano went a lap down to the leader Harvick, not once, but twice. Logano was clearly frustrated when a caution came out just as Harvick put Jamie McMurray a lap down thereby giving McMurray the “lucky dog” lap back. Logano finished 6th.

Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski, finished third and forth respectively and failed to make the finale as well. Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top ten.

 

Unofficial Results

  1. Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet,
  2. Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet,
  3. Matt Kenseth, Toyota,
  4. Brad Keselowski, Ford,
  5. Denny Hamlin, Toyota,
  6. Joey Logano, Ford,
  7. Kurt Busch, Chevrolet,
  8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet,
  9. Greg Biffle, Ford
  10. Marcos Ambrose, Ford,
  11. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet,
  12. Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet,
  13. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet,
  14. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet,
  15. Carl Edwards, Ford, .
  16. AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet,
  17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford,.
  18. Aric Almirola, Ford,
  19. Brian Vickers, Toyota,
  20. Tony Stewart, Chevrolet,
  21. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet,
  22. Danica Patrick, Chevrolet
  23. Paul Menard, Chevrolet
  24. David Gilliland, Ford.
  25. David Ragan, Ford,.
  26. Michael Annett, Chevrolet
  27. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet.
  28. Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet,
  29. Landon Cassill, Chevrolet
  30. J.J. Yeley, Toyota,
  31. Michael McDowell, Ford,
  32. Alex Bowman, Toyota,
  33. Joey Gase, Ford,
  34. Kyle Busch, Toyota,
  35. Casey Mears, Chevrolet
  36. Mike Wallace, Toyota,
  37. Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet.
  38. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet
  39. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet.
  40. Clint Bowyer, Toyota
  41. Josh Wise, Chevrolet
  42. Cole Whitt, Toyota
  43. Mike Bliss, Chevrolet,

 



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

Ed Coombshttp://www.sportshooter.com/coombse
Ed began covering NASCAR for the former Gater Racing News regularly in 2000. He began working with Speedway Media in 2003 by supplying exclusive photos from the races covered. Currently he is the Editor and Assistant Publisher of Speedway Media. He also manages staff and credentialing. With the closing down of Gater News after nearly 50 years he hopes to become a more regular contributor at Speedway Media as a writer and photographer. My Twitter name is @coombsed feel free to follow me I am a member of the National Motorsports Press Association.

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1 COMMENT

  1. NA$CAR has lost all integrity in cup racing that it ever had, which was very little. It has turned it into a root and slash thing like the face bashers on FOX. Congratulations NA$CAR, enjoy your billions. The champion this year will need an asterisk.

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