Harvick Wins Phoenix Photo Finish
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on March 13, 2016 | 6:37 P.M. EST
Kevin Harvick beat Carl Edwards at the finish line by 0.010 seconds. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick edged Carl Edwards in a thrilling finish to win Sunday’s Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Harvick and Edwards battled side-by-side in the final two laps of the overtime finish and made contact several times before hitting the finish line. At the checkered flag it was Harvick ahead by .010-second to score his eighth career Phoenix Sprint Cup Series victory.
The race was the second photo finish in the season’s first four races with Denny Hamlin edging Martin Truex Jr. in the Daytona 500 to start the year. Harvick’s win was by the closest margin of victory in Phoenix history.
“That was not the car that I wanted to see behind me,” Harvick said. “I knew I could beat him down there and I tried to protect the bottom in (Turns) 3 and 4 and I just missed the bottom with all the rubber build-up on the tires and everything. But, all in all, I knew I was going to be on defense down there.
“I got up too high and wasn’t able to stay on the bottom like I wanted to and then he got into me, like he should have, and I needed to get a good run off the corner and I was going to have to get into his door and it worked out, just barely.”
It was Harvick’s first win of the season and he has now won six of the last eight races at PIR.
Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five.
“Just a lot of fun,” Edwards said. “I really wish it would have worked out a little bit differently, but it's a good race. I ran into him about as hard as I thought I could without wrecking him, and it ended up being a drag race. It was kind of fun coming to the line because I thought, man, I got him, and then he doored me real hard and then he got a little run and then I tried to door him and slow him down, but it just didn't work.”
Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Ryan Blaney completed the first ten finishers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Auto Club Speedway next Sunday afternoon.
How Harvick Won: He led a race-high 139 laps but it was far from easy for Harvick, who started the race from the 18th position. He was ahead of the field late the caution flew to send the race into overtime and got a jump on Edwards when the green flew to restart the race. But after looking like he was going to pull away, Harvick had his hands full with Edwards on the final lap and had to endure hard contact from the Joe Gibbs Racing driver as the checkered flag flew to win the race.
Who Had a Good Day: Edwards scored his third top-five finish in the season’s first four races...Hamlin rebounded from an uncontrolled tire penalty earlier in the race for his top-five performance...Kurt Busch has a career-best streak of seven straight top-10 finishes.
Who Had a Bad Day: Ryan Newman’s tough start to the year continue when he had an issue to send him hard into the third turn wall on lap 52...About 50 laps later Newman’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard appeared to have the same right front issue and he also made a hard trip into the outside wall. A melted tire bead due to brake heat was the culprit for both crashes...A similar problem bit Ricky Stenhouse Jr. just past the halfway mark when he experienced a right front tire issue and pounded the outside wall severely damaging his Roush Fenway Racing entry...Brad Keselowski was another victim of the melted bead issue but he experienced a right rear tire problem...Kasey Kahne, who had a top-10 last week in Las Vegas, had a rough weekend that ended when he too had a tire bead issue that sent him into the wall to set-up the overtime finish.
What Else Happened: The race was the first at Phoenix for the new lower aerodynamic downforce package and cars were slipping and sliding around the mile oval all afternoon. While Harvick, Kyle Busch and Earnhardt Jr. led the majority of laps, there was some hard racing for position throughout the field and spots were swapped on a regular basis. While the aero rules may not have made as much an impact at they did in Atlanta and Las Vegas the two weeks earlier, they did appear to influence the racing Sunday at PIR.
Quote of the Day: “I should have wrecked him,” a laughing Carl Edwards on his battle with Kevin Harvick at the finish line.
Notables: Chase Elliott’s eighth-place finish tied his career best...Blaney scored his fourth career top-10 finish...It was the first time two rookies finished in the top 10 since Kyle Larson (2nd) and Austin Dillon (8th) at Kansas Fall 2014.