Kevin Harvick turned in a dominating performance at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, leading 224 of the 312 laps that made up The Profit 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track on his way to the win — his third Phoenix win in the last four races there and his fifth-career PIR win, breaking a tie with Jimmie Johnson for most-career wins at the track.
“Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions,” Harvick said of the win in just his second points-paying race since joining Stewart-Haas Racing after 13 years at Richard Childress Racing. “It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys have put in, but what a race car.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who ran second to Harvick for much of the race, finished second. Brad Keselowski was third, and Joey Logano finished fourth.
“Yeah, we had a great car,” Earnhardt said. “Harvick was so fast all weekend. Congratulations to him and his whole team. They did an awesome job getting ready for this race and were just fast out of the gate. We got a little bet better. We leaned on our teammates and got the car a lot better.”
Team Penske drivers Keselowski and Logano started on the front row, with Keselowski on the pole. Logano took the lead from his teammate on lap one and the two drivers ran first and second until Harvick made his way up from his 13th starting spot to take the lead on lap 74.
With the exception of laps during a couple of cycles of green-flag pit stops, Harvick led the rest of the way. Earnhardt moved up to second behind Harvick just a few laps after Harvick first took the lead.
While a competition caution at lap 35 was the only caution in the first half of the race, the yellow flag waved often from lap 163 until the end. Seven cautions plagued the second half of the race. Harvick was first on the restarts following all of those cautions, while Earnhardt was alongside in second for all but one. Although Earnhardt was right beside him, Logano was the driver that concerned Harvick when it came to restarts.
“The No. 22 (Logano) was able to time the restarts, there, and I knew that what was going to happen was he was going to take a shot down low,” Harvick said. “So I tried to do the best I could. I’m just really happy and thank everybody at the Hendrick engine shop and all these cars sharing information. Dale Jr. racing there for second was a lot of fun.”
For most of those restarts, as Harvick pulled away, Logano challenged Earnhardt for the second spot for awhile before Earnhardt would finally manage to clear him to maintain second in the running order. But on the last restart of the race, as both Harvick and Earnhardt drove away, Logano fell into the clutches of Keselowski, who passed him to claim third on the final restart of the race that followed a lap-297 caution.
Keselowski wasn’t the only one making up spots on the final restart and in the closing laps. With seven laps to go, Jeff Gordon got by both Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman to move into the top-five for the finish.
Johnson finished sixth, Newman seventh, Carl Edwards was eighth, Kyle Busch ninth, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-10.
But before you leave, check out this photo gallery of images from Phoenix (photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR):