Kevin Harvick wins the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. Kyle Busch started the race on the pole and proceeded to lead most of the race in a dominating fashion. He led 237 laps out of 312.
The race was relatively mild for about 3/4 of the race. While Kyle was leading our championship contenders Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski were racing up to the front from their not so great starting positions swapping positions in the standings due to their different pit strategies.
It wasn’t apparent during the race but Jimmie Johnson must have been pushing his car harder than he should in order to keep up with Brad and keep the Championship close. This caught up with Jimmie on lap 236 when his right front tire gave up and he hit the wall hard. Hard enough to do significant damage to the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet. He had to go to the garage for significant repairs. He ended up finishing the race in 32nd position 38 laps down.
Brad Keselowski was able to use fuel millage during the race to not only lead a lap but put himself in contention to win the race. Eventually his early pit strategy required pitting out of sequence with the leaders and giving up his chance for the win. He did get one bonus point for leading a lap and more importantly Jimmie did not get a bonus point.
“… the troubles that they had are the same troubles that we could have next week, and so you try not to take anything for granted. You try to just focus on what lies ahead, and we’ve got to do the best job we can at Homestead. That’s where my focus is.” Brad Keselowski said about Jimmie after the race.
There were three additional caution flags, one for the No. 34, and one for the No. 14 and one for the No. 22 all within 25 laps. This kept the field bunched together for some really close racing. Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon were racing close the byproduct of that was Clint getting into the left rear of Jeff’s No 24. Jeff’s tire went down on the next lap and he crashed his car. There was no caution and Jeff limped around the track trying to salvage a finish, or was he?
When Jeff Gordon was black flagged for being too slow, he waited for Clint and turned him extracting his payback. The ensuing accident also caught up Joey Logano and Aric Almirola. During the caution flag one of the biggest fights between NASCAR teams in decades broke out between the No. 15 and No. 24 teams.
Kevin Harvick had not taken the green flag yet so there was a green white checker finish. Kevin led the field to green, was able to keep his position and won the race. This is Kevin’s 19th victory in 429 starts. This one was especially good because of the controversy this week over whether or not he will remain with Richard Childress Racing.
“Well, it has been a struggle for the year. It has been an interesting weekend to say the least, but I know that these guys all want to win.” Kevin said,”I know Richard (Childress) wants to win and regardless of what happens in 2014 we have the end of this year and we’ve got all of next year. We want to win races and we want to be competitive and that is what we are here to do.”
Brad Keselowski now leads Jimmie Johnson in the Chase for the Sprint Cup by 20 points. Brad can win the Championship next week at Homestead Miami Speedway if he finishes 15th or better, 16th if he leads a lap or 17th if he leads the most laps.
Denny Hamlin was second, Kyle Busch was third, Kasey Kahne was fourth, and Ryan Newman was fifth. Stephen Leicht (35th) was the highest finishing rookie
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