Late caution ruins Harvick’s run to Phoenix victory

Ten laps.

Kevin Harvick needed to complete 10 more laps to score his 10th career victory at Phoenix Raceway. He pulled to a five-second lead over Kyle Larson, who led a race-high of 201 laps, when he powered under him in Turn 2 on Lap 270 and his long-run strength made him all but untouchable.

Then the caution flew.

AVONDALE, Ariz. – MARCH 12: Harrison Burton, driver of the #21 DEX Images Ford, spins down the frontstretch with 10 laps to go in the NASCAR Cup Series United Rental Works United 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 12, 2023, in Avondale, Arizona. Photo: Ron Olds/SpeedwayMedia.com

Just ahead of Harvick, Harrison Burton spun at the start/finish line, cut a tire down and shed debris on the track. Everybody came down pit road, but six cars took just right-side tires, while he took four.

“It’s what I would have done (taking four tires),” he said. “I’d always rather be on offense.”

Compounding the matter, his car was geared towards long runs, and struggled on short runs. So on the ensuing restart with three laps to go, he pulled up along the outside of Denny Hamlin, but was boxed in by him and Ross Chastain ahead.

“Kind of lost our chance,” he said. “Still thought I had a chance there at the end.”

And he got another shot, after AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs and a few others tangled in Turn 2 and forced overtime.

In overtime, Harvick chose the outside line, but the same song and dance played out.

“Those cars were quite a bit slower,” he said. “They get all jammed up.”

He made up a measly two spots as William Byron scored his sixth NASCAR Cup Series victory and he brought his car home fifth.

“That’s the way it goes,” he said. “Just smoked ‘em up until the caution. They did a great job with our Hunter Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang. Didn’t need the caution at the end.”

While it’s no silver lining for the all-time wins leader at Phoenix, Harvick extended the series record for most consecutive top-10 finishes at a single track to 20. Furthermore, he leaves Phoenix second in points. Just three behind points leader Alex Bowman.

He’ll have one more chance to score win No. 10 at Phoenix in November. Where he could retire as one of just six drivers to win 10 or more races at a single track.

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

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2023, I'm on my eighth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Your Name" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."

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