Phoenix Rear View Mirror
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on March 2, 2014 | 7:54 P.M. EST
Another large crowd showed up for Sunday's The Profit on CNBC 500. (Photo: Getty Images)
As rebounds go Sunday was a pretty good one for Kevin Harvick.
Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team didn’t enjoy the best Daytona 500. A variety of mechanical problems and accidents added up to “The Great American Race” being anything but for SHR.
But Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, Harvick put all that in the rear view mirror with a dominating performance to win The Profit on CNBC 500. Harvick didn’t just run away from the field, he was pretty much in Yuma for most of the afternoon.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise Harvick ran well at the one-mile desert track. Aside from teammate and boss Tony Stewart, he probably has more laps around PIR than anyone else in NASCAR. Harvick has been good at Phoenix in late models, the Truck Series, Nationwide and the Sprint Cup Series, where he is now the career win leader with five.
While he didn’t have the Daytona finish to show for it, Harvick wasn’t terrible during Speedweeks. He was fast all week and despite failing post race inspection after his Budweiser Duel finish, the No. 4 team and crew chief Rodney Childers appeared in sync.
Now with a win and a ticket to the Chase, Harvick and company can focus on more trips to Victory Lane and not worry too much about the point standings.
That approach would seem to fit Harvick’s style pretty well. For the time being he can focus on wins and not rebounds.
- Danica Patrick’s sophomore Sprint Cup Series season is off to a crummy start. After crashing last week in the Daytona 500, Patrick had another miserable day Sunday in Phoenix. She was caught up in an incident with Justin Allgaier and Travis Kvapil just past the halfway mark and suffered significant damage to her Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Things got worse a few laps later when she cut a tire and spun. Patrick is always under scrutiny but in a season where improvement was mandatory she’s already in a hole only two races into 2014.
- The large Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year crop is learning how difficult it is to compete at NASCAR's top level in a hurry. Kyle Larson was the best of the freshman in Sunday's race with a 20th-place finish while the rest of the rookies experienced a variety of different frustrations. It will be fun to watch who wins this year's award as well as the progression of the talented young drivers.
- Phoenix Int'l Raceway continues to prove a worthy spot to host the second weekend of the NASCAR season and the post Daytona spot on the schedule. Another large crowd showed up for Sunday's The Profit on CNBC 500 and the track kept alive its recent streak of filling the grandstands.
- It will be interesting to see the television ratings for Sunday’s race. After a week’s worth of solid publicity from an exciting Daytona 500 and the Dale Earnhardt Jr. victory carry over, FOX was hoping for a bump in viewership. Sunday’s sports television landscape wasn’t very strong with college basketball and spring training baseball the main competition. Tiger Woods’ withdrawal from the PGA tour event also weakened the alternatives for casual sports fans.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.