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.
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.