Written by Adrian Beecher

Picture

Kevin Harvick captured a 3rd straight victory in as many weeks as he took the checkered flag at ISM Raceway. The victory marks his 9th career Ticket Guardian 500 win and 40th career Cup series victory.

After his second consecutive win last week ast Las Vegas, Harvick was deducted playoff points and his team hit with a slew of other fines for an issue with the rear window during the race. He used that as motivation this week.

“I’ve been mad as all get out because this team does a great job. This organization does a great job and we’ve got fast race cars. And to take that away from those guys just really pissed me off last week. To come here to a race track that is so good for us is a lot of fun and everyone was just determined this week and we just wanted to just go stomp them. We didn’t stomp them, but we won. That’s all that really matters. Just proud of this team.”

“I’ve been mad as all get out because this team does a great job. This organization does a great job and we’ve got fast race cars. And to take that away from those guys just really pissed me off last week. To come here to a race track that is so good for us is a lot of fun and everyone was just determined this week and we just wanted to just go stomp them. We didn’t stomp them, but we won. That’s all that really matters. Just proud of this team.”

After sitting stalking down second most of the day, Harivck made the moves at the end to get the victory, getting out of his car in elation, smacking repeatedly his back window.

Here’s how it went down in Arizona Sunday.

Martin Truex Jr. started on the pole, but it would be Kyle Larson jumping out to the lead on the first lap at Phoenix. The first caution of the day came out on lap 25 as Corey Lajoie’s No. 72 Chevy blew his engine. NASCAR elected to use this as the competition caution.

Winning the battle off of pit road from the first caution was Martin Truex Jr. The biggest gainer off of pit road was Brad Keselowski who elected to just take 2 tires and gained 17 spots, moving into the sixth position. Truex Jr. got a bad restart allowing Larson to regain the top spot. Five laps into the restart, Truex Jr. had dropped back to 5th place.

Kyle Busch would make the pass on Kyle Larson on lap 56, and pull out to a full second lead after just six laps out in front. Busch would lead all the way through to the end of the first stage, capturing his first stage win of the year.

Busch would maintain the lead going into stage two as he won the battle off of pit road under caution. He would maintain the lead through the first half of the second stage until the caution came out on lap 122 with only 29 laps left in the stage as Kyle Larson got loose and spun sideways. No contact with any walls or other cars was made though.

Brad Keselowski won the battle off of pit road to take the top spot, as he repeated another two-tire stop. Kyle Busch would regain the lead just four laps into the restart as he made the pass on Keselowski.

The caution would come out once again with just five laps left in stage 2 as Chris Buscher got loose in turn four. Most of the leaders pitted, except for Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Rickey Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell. The field would get the green flag with just 1-lap left in the stage. Kurt Busch got a great restart and captured the stage two victory. Kyle Busch finished in 4th in the 2nd stage, Stenhouse Jr. taking 3rd and Keselowski taking 2nd.

The top three would head down pit road during the caution as Kyle Busch once again claimed the top position and Kevin Harvick following in 2nd. It would take a while, but on lap 180 Harvick would make the pass on Busch for the lead.

The caution would once again come out on lap 192 as Paul Menard’s car seemed to have something in the rear break, causing him to slam his tail hard into the wall out of the dogleg into turn two.

Out of the caution, William Byron would claim the lead this was one of 6 lead changes in the final 112 laps of the race. The big one came with just 22 laps to go as Kevin Harvick made the pass on then-leader Ryan Newman to take the lead.

As the checkered flag flew, Harvick claimed the victory, for a third straight week in a row. For a second straight week, Kyle Busch finished 2nd, something that is starting to build his frustration after issues on pit road held the No. 18 back a bit at the end of the race.

“Coming into the green flag stops, had a couple guys pit a little bit before us. I don’t think that hurt us too bad, but the jack dropping certainly did. We lost the race on pit road today. There’s been races where I’ve won it on pit road, too. We’ll just have to go into next week and see what we can do there.” said Busch post race.

Kevin Harvick leads the points standings, with Kyle Busch in 2nd, 12 points back. The Monster Energy Cup Series drivers now head to Fontana, California to finish the three-race West Coast trip in the Auto Club 400.

 

Photo credit: Joshua Hill / The Racing Experts

Leave a Reply