Phoenix Sweep For Harvick

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AVONDALE, Ariz. - The country's current gasoline crisis hit NASCAR on Saturday night. But Kevin Harvick isn't complaining.

Harvick took advantage of several frontrunners fuel problems late in the race to win the NEXTEL Cup Series Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

The victory gave Harvick a sweep of the weekend's racing at PIR after his victory Friday night in the Busch Series Basha's Supermarkets 200.

Harvick's triumph ended a 39 race NEXTEL Cup drought for the driver of the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, dating back to his win at Bristol in March of 2005. Fittingly, Harvick swept both the Busch and Cup races that weekend as well.

"We didn't have the best car all day today but we had the best car when it counted," Harvick said. "Before those cautions, we were about one lap short of making it to the finish."

Harvick and car owner Richard Childress have been discussing the renewal of his contract with the team, which has been on an upswing as of late.

"We've run really good this year and the performance is up," said Harvick. "Everything is running good right now."

Greg Biffle had misfortune strike once again as he dominated the race, only to come up short at the end. Biffle needed to conserve fuel during the last green flag run and watched Harvick race by for the lead with ten laps to go.

Eight laps later, Biffle's Subway Ford completely ran out of fuel two laps from the finish dooming him to a 16th place finish.

Biffle wasn't alone on the fuel shortage as Mark Martin, Kyle Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also ran out of gas on the final lap.

Tony Stewart chased Harvick across the finish line in second place, 2.774 second behind in his Home Depot Chevrolet. The runnerup finish was impressive for the defending series champion, who despite qualifying third, was forced to start last due to a tire mix-up.

NASCAR rules state that the Top 10 cars must start a race on the set used during qualifying. But Stewart's crew inadvertently turned in its qualifying tires to Goodyear to be destroyed, rather than impounded.

"Once they drill holes in it, you’re done," Stewart said. "You’ve got to take new tires and put them on and you’ve got to go to the back no matter what."

Roush Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards finished third and fourth with rookie Clint Bowyer finishing an impressive fifth.

"I feel bad for Greg, it's hard to look at the good side if you are him," said Kenseth, Biffle's Roush Racing teammate. "He had a car good enough to win three or four times this season, and none of its his fault. But I have no doubt Greg is going to make the Chase. He's running so strong and there's no doubt in my mind he's going to be a contender at the end of the year."

Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon rounded out the first ten finishers.

Polesitter Kyle Busch had his bid for two straight Phoenix Cup wins end on lap 100, when he was caught up in one of two crashes that happened on the same lap.

Kyle Petty turned Michael Waltrip around in turn four, kicking off a massive multi-car pile-up that included Elliott Sadler, Joe Nemechek and Reed Sorenson.

Meanwhile Casey Mears and Busch made contact as they raced into turn one, sending Busch's car around and into the wall.

NASCAR red flagged the race because of the blockage in turn four as Busch chased Mears down and drove into the side of his car on the backstretch.

Busch returned to the race on lap 145 and was 44 laps down before promptly being penalized a five lap infraction by NASCAR for the Mears incident.

Kenseth took over the point lead and is ahead of Johnson by nine after eight races. Kahne, Martin and Stewart round out the Top 5.

The NEXTEL Cup Series now travels to Talladega Superspeedway for next Sunday's Aaron's 499.




        

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