The Final Word – Harvick Once Again the Best in Phoenix but Fontana is Johnson Country

Phoenix got somewhat exciting near the end. Kevin Harvick was the star of this show, with the likes of Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray in supporting roles. Two straight this season, four straight at Phoenix, a lock on a Chase spot (you would think) and 30 career victories as he defends his Cup championship. It is good being Kevin Harvick.

Not so good being Tony Stewart. Take some orange paper, write a number 14 on it, then crumple it all up and toss it on the floor. That is pretty much how Stewart’s car looked when it finally stopped along the wall. Thirty-ninth on the day, 35th in the standings. It is not good being Tony Stewart, at least after four Cup races.

It was good being Dale Earnhardt Jr. Top Fives at Daytona, Atlanta and Las Vegas was good. A blown tire and a sharp slap to the wall to finish 43rd was not.

It was good, finally, to be Kurt Busch. In the words of Mike Joy, he went from suspension to redemption, as he finished fourth in his return.

Danica Patrick had another day outside the Top 25. Sure, her team-mates with the law firm of Stewart-Harvick-and Busch may all have won championships, but none of them have a cook book coming out. Game, set and match, losers.

One day, one race, 43 teams. I guess that is a bit too much even for Will Ferrell.

The best on the day amongst the lesser lights was Justin Allgaier. The 29th ranked driver from last season was 18th at Phoenix. Among the brighter bulbs who went dim were Junior, Brian Vickers, Sam Hornish Jr. and Smoke, all of whom wound up amongst the bottom five.

The great thing about FOX Sports taking over coverage is all the extra time it has given me. No truck racing, no practices, no qualifying to sit through. Now, if I only don’t blow it all on watching curling on TSN.

What does Junior’s puppy at Martin Truex Jr’s motorcoach have in common with Junior’s car last Sunday out on the track? That is where both suddenly went to crap.

Someone stole the No. 44. Now a lawyer wants it. Apparently, there is a claim that team owner John Cohen owes some money, so when the counsel for the other party heard Cohen claim the car was worth $250,000 he thought he would claim a piece. Insert your favorite lawyer joke here, I guess.

The western swing wraps up this Sunday in Fontana, California, where the mending Kyle Busch will see an end to his two race dominance of that track. Maybe that will work in favor of five time race winner Jimmie Johnson, or allow Kyle Larson to build on his runner-up performance in his one and only start there. Will it be exciting? It depends on who you like and where they are racing. Then again, who watches live events anymore? Hit record and watch the action at your own pace, maybe catch an inning or two of a ball game in the meantime, or shovel some snow, if you live in the northeast, then return to the track. Hey, it is a multi-task world.

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

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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