By AMANDA VINCENT
A photo finish between Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards in the Good Sam 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday resulted in Harvick finishing 0.01 seconds ahead of Edwards.
“I should’ve wrecked him (Harvick),” Edwards jokingly said. “No, those guys were doing a great job all day. They hung on with those tires, but we were faster, so I thought, ‘Man, I’ll just move him out of the way and get by.’ I just didn’t move him far enough, and then he got up the door and I thought I was trying to time — I thought, “I think he’s going to beat me.’ So I tried to sideswipe him before he got there, but I needed to be in front of his front tire. Anyway, just a fun race. Man, I wish we could’ve won that thing.”
It was Harvick’s first win of the 2016 season but his eighth at PIR, including six in the last eight races at the track.
“I just like racing here,” Harvick said. “It’s just one of those places where I feel like I’ve been here enough times to where I can move around and find something to make our car work. We struggled a lot this weekend to get the balance where we wanted to, but we knew the feel that we were looking for, and we got pretty close, there, in happy hour (final practice) and still in the race, I feel like I waas good through (turns) one and two, and at times, was good through three and four, but it was very edgy. Maybe that’s a product of the new package or the tires or whatever it is.”
Edwards led a trio of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the top-five, with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch finishing third and fourth.
“It was a great effort for our whole FedEx Freight Toyota team,” Hamlin said. “Just thought we had a car that would win. We really did a good job back there; pit crew did a good job down the stretch, there. So, overall, I’m very proud of our program. We’ve really come a long way on this race track.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five after restarting on the front row next to Harvick on the front row for the final two green-flag laps of the race. Harvick, Earnhardt and Austin Dillon stayed out during the fifth and final caution of the race that came out with six laps to go in the 312-lap scheduled distance, while the rest of the field pitted, mostly for two new tires.
“I was surprised we finished as good as we did,” Earnhardt said. “I thought that was a good move to not pit. If a couple more guys don’t pit and we get another guy on the outside in the second row, we were in good shape.”
Dilllon dropped back to ninth after restarting third.
Busch started on the pole and led the first 74 laps before Earnhardt got by him for the lead. Busch’s time up front included the first caution of the race that cam eon lap 52. While everyone else pitted for four tires, Busch only took two. Despite only having two new tires to everyone else’s four, Busch was able to maintain the lead for about 20 more laps.
During the other four remaining cautions, Edwards’ crew kept getting its driver off pit road first. After getting out of the pits first during a lap 106 yellow flag, Edwards maintained the lead until Harvick took his first lead of the race on a restart following a lap 163 caution.
Harvick led throughout the remainder of the race, except for when Edwards beat him off pit road during a yellow flag with 87 laps remaining. As soon as the race restarted, though, Harvick retook the lead. In all, Harvick led a race-high 139 laps.
Kurt Busch finished sixth, Matt Kenseth was seventh, Chase Elliott eighth, Dillon ninth and, Ryan Blaney finished 10th.
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