After Kyle Busch domianted most of the Advocare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceay on Sunday, the second half of the event pretty much had it all, from a points takeover, to crews brawling in the garage to cars sliding across the start/finish line to take the checkered flag after a green-white-checker restart.
When the smoke cleared and the excitement died down for most, Kevin Harvick drove into victory lane to celebrate his first win of the season. He took the lead from Busch with eight laps to go and never looked back.
“I was just thinking about not over driving the corner and how much gas I had,” Harvick said of his thoughts over the course of the final laps. “We want to win races, and we want to be competitive and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The win was the first for Harvick since September 2011.
Brad Keselowski was also a winner, of sorts, with his own sixth-place finish. With Jimmie Johnson finishing all the way back in 32nd spot as a result of a tire issue that led to hard impact with the wall with 77 laps to go, Keselowski, who headed to Phoenix seven points behind Johnson, left PIR with a 20-point lead.
“That’s racing,” Johnson said. “We’ll just go down to Homestead and do what we can to win. Another 30 or 40 feet down the corner, we probably would’ve just had a flat and not hit the wall.”
Despite having a 20-point lead with one race to go, Keselowski’s not taking anything for granted.
“Obviously, there’s not guarantees,” Keselowski said. “The same thing could happen to us next week, and Jimmie could take back over.”
Aside from the troubles of the former points leader, the most excitement stemmed from an incident between Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon with two laps remaining in the race’s scheduled 312-lap distance.
Gordon was infuriated by being on the receiving end of contact from Bowyer and decided he’d had enough. In a move of retaliation, he took out Bowyer, himself and Joey Logano, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Things have gotten escalated over the year and I have just had it,” Gordon said. “Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me and he got into me on the back straightaway, pretty much ruined our day. I have had it, was fed up with it and got him back.”
Soon after the incident, Bowyer’s crew chief Brian Pattie seemed unsure why Gordon was so upset. He speculated to an ESPN reporter that the two may have previously made contact in turn three but he wasn’t sure since he hadn’t see it.
On the other hand, Gordon’s crew chief Alan Gustafson was certain of the source of Gordon’s ire.
Whatever the reason, crews from the two teams wound up in a brawl in the garage and drivers, crew chiefs and owners were called to the NASCAR hauler.
But don’t forget, there was a race to complete. As previously mentioned, Harvick went on to win, Denny Hamlin was second, Busch third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Ryan Newman fifth. Keselowski was sixth, Greg Biffle seventh, Kurt Busch eighth, Paul Menard ninth and Mark Martin rounded out the top-10.
The Gordon-Bowyer incident wasn’t the last incident of the race, though. Several drivers got together as the front runners had the checkered flag in sight. And some of those front runners were involved, including Newman, who slid across the line sideways. Others involved included Keselowski, Martin, Kurt Busch and Menard.
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