Phoenix Winners and Losers
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on November 11, 2013 | 11:01 A.M. EST
Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson each came up big at Phoenix. (Photo: Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson - Game. Set. Match. It will take a disaster of enormous proportions for Johnson not to win Sprint Cup Series championship number six this season. He was able to dodge more than one potential catastrophe Sunday at PIR to score a third-place finish and now enjoys a very comfortable advantage over Matt Kenseth heading into this week's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Kevin Harvick - The "Lame Duck Dynasty" rose again Sunday with Harvick scoring his fourth career Phoenix Sprint Cup victory. It doesn't matter whether Harvick and the Richard Childress Racing organization are best friends these days as he winds down his tenure with the team. The bottom line is they continue to perform despite any awkwardness.
Kasey Kahne - You don't want to be the guy who finishes last in the first-ever 13 driver Chase, but that's exactly what Kahne was facing coming into the Phoenix weekend. His second-place finish behind Harvick at least pulled Kahne out of the basement.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Another top five finish for Junior who has been as good as any driver since the Chase moved past the Chicagoland opener.
Juan Pablo Montoya - He'll make his NASCAR farewell start next week at Homestead and warmed up for the finale with a solid top-10 performance in Phoenix. Stranger things have happened than a driver winning his final race for a team before moving on so who knows?
Matt Kenseth - Had the worst race of his entire season at exactly the worst time. Kenseth's car was more than a handful all day in Phoenix and some suspect work by his pit crew didn't help matters at all. You can't take away the fact Kenseth's season has been nothing short of amazing but capping it off with a championship is now more than a long shot.
Carl Edwards - Had the checkered flag within sight and a Phoenix season sweep until his engine coughed out of fuel and Edwards went from penthouse to outhouse in matter of seconds.
Denny Hamlin - Actually led early until he dropped like a stone on a pond to a 28th-place finish. One of the trio from Joe Gibbs Racing that suffered more than a miserable day in the "Valley of the Sun."
Danica Patrick - Seriously? She finished 10 laps down and struggled all day before getting involved in an on-track altercation. Patrick's not ending her Sprint Cup rookie campaign very well at all.
David Reutimann - What a year for BK racing which has seen its share of battered racecars in 2013, including Reutimann's on Sunday which looked like an AMC Gremlin after his encounter with the wall.