Share This Post


NASCAR Cup: Kevin Harvick continues winning streak

AVONDALE, AZ – MARCH 11: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Ford, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway on March 11, 2018 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)


Kevin Harvick won, again, at ISM Raceway near Phoenix on Sunday, claiming his third-straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in the first four races of 2018 and his ninth-career win at ISM Raceway when he took the checkered flag in the Ticket Guardian 500. In victory lane, the race winner, still seemingly somewhat bitter about the penalties handed to his team by NASCAR after the win a week earlier at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, expressed vindication with his latest win.

“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,” Harvick said of penalties assessed to his team after the previous race at Las Vegas. “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. Put a fire in our belly. I’ve just got to thank everyone at Jimmy John’s, Busch, Ford, Mobile 1, Outback, Hunt Brothers, Morton Buildings, Textron, Liftmaster, Haas Automation. I always forget the owners, Gene Haas and and Tony Stewart. What a badass team right there!”

Kyle Busch finished second to Harvick for the second-consecutive week.

“It’s starting to get frustrating,” Busch said.

While Harvick was dominant in the races that produced his first two wins of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas, Busch led the most laps at ISM Raceway on Sunday, running up front for 128 of the 312-lap race and winning the first of the two 75-lap stages that made up the first 150 laps of the event.

Busch took his first lead of the race when he passed Kyle Larson on lap 58. To that point, Larson had led all green-flag laps, taking the lead from pole sitter Martin Truex Jr. on the first lap, and then, getting out in front of Truex, again, on the first restart that followed a caution for Corey LaJoie’s blown engine on lap 25. Truex had gotten off pit road ahead of Larson during the first caution.

Truex remained in or near the top-five throughout the remainder of the race, but Larson struggled after losing the lead, eventually falling outside the top-10, and then, spinning on lap 121. He wound up with an 18th-place finish.

Kurt Busch was the winner of the second stage by staying out when the previous frontrunners pitted during a lap-146 caution for a Chris Buescher blown right-front tire. The race restarted for one green-flag lap before stage-end, and Busch managed to stay up front on his older tires. He gave up the lead to pit between stages, restarting outside the top-20 and handing the lead back over to his younger brother, Kyle Busch.

“The car responded well to my steering and gas inputs,” Busch said. “I was a little slow on restarts, but I love being able to lean on the right-rear tire and make passes later in the run. Our strategy unfolded the best it could have to win stage two and get back in the top-10. We just didn’t run the same lap times we did at the end as we did at the beginning of the race, but all in all, it was a good day.”

Harvick took his first lead of the race when he got by Busch with 133 laps remaining.

After William Byron and Aric Almirola restarted up front by getting off pit road first and second with two-tire changes, Denny Hamlin eventually got to the lead and Harvick to second. After a battle between the two for the lead that lasted several laps, Busch took second from Harvick with 72 laps to go and the lead from Hamlin with 69 laps remaining.

Busch, though, lost ground to not only Harvick and Hamlin but also Chase Elliott during a cycle of green-flag pit stops in the final 60 laps when he waited four laps longer to pit, and then had his jack fall on his pit stop. Elliott was the first of the four to pit during the cycle, and therefore, was the first of the group after stops. But by the time Ryan Newman ended the cycle with his stop with 23 laps to go, Harvick had gotten by Elliott to reassume the lead and Busch had passed Elliott for second when Newman finally hit pit road.

“Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made a good call, had a good pit stop there at the end to get us the lead,” Elliott said. ”Just didn’t have what I needed to stay in front of Kevin for that long; there were a lot of laps left. We gave it our best effort today. I felt like we made the most of what we had and we will move on to California.”

Elliott finished the race third. He and Truex were the only two top-10 finishers not either a Stewart-Haas Racing or Joe Gibbs Racing driver, as both those teams had all four of their drivers in the top-10 at the checkered flag. Finishing fourth through 10th were Hamlin, Truex, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Kurt Busch.

“It was a solid day,” Bowyer said. “We just have to get better as a team. I buried us a little bit in qualifying. It was a good run for us — a good run for Stewart-Haas Racing. We weren’t very good here last year. We sucked as a matter of fact, so that is a breath of fresh air after stubbing our toe last week. Having a good run today is definitely some positive mojo going.”

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (

Share This Post

Posted by on March 11, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply