Happy Happy Happy! Harvick Makes it Three in a Row with Phoenix Win

Kevin Harvick took home the checkered flag in the Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM (Phoenix) Raceway in Avondale, Arizona on Sunday. It was Harvick’s 40th career win and third in a row this season, something he’s never done before in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. This win comes following a controversial week for Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing team as his victory last week in Las Vegas was scrutinized due to a questionable modification on his rear window. The week-long drama surrounding the win clearly didn’t slow Harvick down though.

Martin Truex Jr. led the field to the green flag but Kyle Larson immediately took the top spot and pulled away. NASCAR initially had planned to throw a competition caution at lap 35 due to rain washing all the rubber off the track but when Corey LaJoie blew his motor on lap 25 NASCAR decided that would serve as the competition caution instead. Truex regained the lead after a fast pit-stop by his 78 crew. His tenure out-front was once again short-lived as Larson rocketed away on the restart. Kyle Busch’s car seemed to come to life in the second half of stage 1 and with 18 laps remaining he caught and passed Larson for the top spot. Busch would go on to win stage 1 as Larson was passed by Kevin Harvick shortly after losing the lead and ended up third.

Busch retained his lead during pit-stops following the first stage. On the restart Busch jumped out to a lead but Harvick remained close. Harvick kept the 18 in his sights for the first 20 laps of stage 2 but when Chase Elliott caught up to him it allowed Busch to steadily pull away. Larson, who had fallen all the way to 12th, got loose and went for a solo spin in turn 3 on lap 121 to bring out the caution.

On pit-road Brad Keselowski opted to take just two tires which propelled him from eighth to first. Keselowski’s lead only lasted a handful of laps and Kyle Busch quickly took the spot back. Chris Buescher cut a tire with five laps remaining in the stage and hit the turn 4 wall in his number 37 Chevrolet. This caution set up a one lap dash to settle the stage and several drivers decided not to pit including Keselowski and Kurt Busch in the 41 car. Kurt Busch got a good restart and held on to win the stage, his second stage victory of the season

Kurt Busch and all the other cars who stayed out on the previous caution hit the pits after stage 2 which turned the lead back to his brother Kyle. As the final stage got underway he held the lead for several laps but Harvick reeled him in and took his first lead of the day with 134 laps remaining. Soon after Paul Menard cut a tire and backed into the fence on the backstretch with 121 laps to go.

The caution brought everyone down pit-road and a few teams decided to play the strategy game. William Byron and Aric Almirola took just two tires and were out-front on what was the race’s final restart. Their gamble paid off in the short run as Byron held the lead for several laps until Denny Hamlin got around him with 103 to go. Hamlin stayed out-front for the next 33 laps but it certainly was no easy task as he, Kyle Busch, and Harvick fought fiercely for the lead lap after lap after lap until Busch managed to get back to the top spot.

The final cycle of pit-stops occurred under green and Chase Elliott was the first of the leaders to come in with 58 to go. Short pitting allowed Elliott to get by Harvick and Busch and it seemed he would inherit the lead after the pit cycle ended. Harvick had other plans. When Ryan Newman surrendered the lead to pit with 23 laps left Harvick had already made it past Elliott and was back out front. Kyle Busch passed Elliott shortly after and attempted to run down the 4 car in the closing laps but he was unsuccessful.

 

Results for the Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kyle Busch (Stage 1)
  3. Chase Elliott
  4. Denny Hamlin
  5. Martin Truex Jr.
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Aric Almirola
  8. Daniel Suarez
  9. Erik Jones
  10. Kurt Busch (Stage 2)
  11. Ryan Newman
  12. William Byron
  13. Alex Bowman
  14. Jimmie Johnson
  15. Brad Keselowski
  16. Ryan Blaney
  17. Austin Dillon
  18. Kyle Larson
  19. Joey Logano
  20. Trevor Bayne
  21. J. Allmendinger
  22. David Ragan
  23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  24. Kasey Khane
  25. Matt DiBenedetto
  26. Jamie McMurray
  27. Ross Chastain
  28. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  29. Chris Buescher
  30. Ty Dillon
  31. J. Kennington
  32. Michael McDowell
  33. Timmy Hill
  34. Gray Gaulding
  35. Jeffery Earnhardt
  36. Paul Menard (crash)
  37. Corey LaJoie (engine)

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