Harvick Makes it 3 Straight Winning the TicketGuardian 500 at Phoenix

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Kevin Harvick(4) won the last two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Atlanta and Las Vegas. This week at ISM Raceway in Phoenix he is the favorite to make it three in a row. Martin Truex Jr.(78) won the pole for the TicketGuardian 500. Harvick starts 10th. However, Harvick was the fastest in both of the final two practice sessions when the cars are set-up in race trim.

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan / Getty Images

Kyle Larson(42) went to the lead from the front row and held the point until Corey LaJoie(72) blew up the engine in his car on Lap 25. The resulting caution brought the field to pit road. Truex Jr. exited first. Harvick, who had worked his way to sixth, picked up one more spot exiting the pits in fifth. On the green flag restart, Larson again resumed the lead. Harvick continued to chip away at the leaders picking up more positions on the track.

Harvick’s dominance over the past two weeks was tempered somewhat by the penalty the team received after Atlanta. A rear window brace failed. It caused the back of the roof to cave in when the car was at speed. Pictures posted on social media brought extra attention to the problem. NASCAR penalized the number 4 car seven playoff points and 20 championship points. Fines and a car chief suspension also cost the team for the infraction.

It is unlikely Harvick gained a competitive advantage from the issue. Still, fans debated the outcome of the race all week. Our opinion? He would have won the race anyway, regardless of the aero situation.

Kyle Busch(18) drove to the front passing Larson with 17 laps to go in the 75 lap Stage 1. Harvick moved into second place during the final laps of the Stage.

Stage 1 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
18 Busch 10
4 Harvick* 9
42 Larson 8
11 Hamlin 7
78 Truex Jr. 6
9 Elliott 5
2 Keselowski* 4
41 Kurt Busch* 3
22 Logano* 2
20 Jones 1

* Ford Fusion Drivers

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Kyle Busch scored his first stage win of the 2018 season. Exiting the pits after the Stage ending caution Kyle Busch maintained the lead. He was followed by Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin(11), Chase Elliott(9), and Brad Keselowski(2). The top five cars leading the race going into the start of Stage 2

Stage 2

Kyle Busch held the lead until lap 47 of Stage 2. Larson spun in turn 3 bringing out the second incident related caution of the day. On the pit stops, Keselowski changed only two tires and exited the pits first. Followed by Busch, Truex Jr., Elliott, and Kurt Busch(41). Harvick restarted 6th.

Chris Buescher(37) suffered a flat right front tire and hit the wall with five laps to go in the Stage. Setting up a one-lap sprint to the green and white checker. Kurt Busch(41) took the Stage win followed by Keselowski, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(17). Giving Ford a 1-2-3 finish.

Stage 2 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
41 Kurt Busch* 10
2 Keselowski* 9
17 Stenhouse Jr.* 8
18 Kyle Busch 7
34 McDowell* 6
13 Ty Dillon 5
4 Harvick* 4
78 Truex Jr. 3
95 Kahne 2
14 Bowyer* 1

*Ford Fusion Drivers

Kyle Busch, Harvick, Truex Jr., and Clint Bowyer(14) led the pack after the Stage ending pit stops.

Final Stage

The final stage consists of 162 of the 312 total laps that make up the TicketGuardian 500. On lap 189 Paul Menard crashed his Ford in turn 2 when a rear tire went down.  A tough break for the Wood Brother’s team who entered the race 10th in the season points.

On the restart, two new cars appeared at the front of the pack. Using two-tire pit stops, William Byron(24) and Aric Almirola(10) took the green on the front row. Denny Hamlin quickly moved into third Harvick ran fourth and Kyle Busch fifth with 110 laps to go. Seven laps later, Hamlin took the lead.

The Battle for First Heats Up

With 85 laps to go, it was a three-car race. Hamlin, Harvick, and Kyle Busch ran nose to tail jockeying for the lead. Busch moved to second with 71 laps to go. With 69 to go Kyle Busch took the top spot. As the leaders ran side-by-side, Chase Elliott joined the battle for the top spot.

The leaders began their final green-flag pit stops with 57 laps to go. Kyle Busch pitted with 52 to go surrendering the lead. As the field sorted out after pit stops Elliott moved to the front of the group. Harvick, Hamlin, Busch, and Truex Jr. followed. Ryan Newman(31) and Keselowski led. But, they were out of sequence with the leaders and unless the caution flew soon they would have to pit.

The Finish

Keselowski pitted with 27 laps to go. Newman entered pit road with 23 to go. Harvick then led, followed by Kyle Busch, Elliott, Hamlin, and Truex Jr. With 15 to go Harvick had a one second lead on Busch.

Harvick maintained the lead to the checkered flag, winning three in a row for the first time in his career. The last driver over the age of 40 to three-peat? Harry Gant in 1991. Joey Logano was the last driver to accomplish the feat. He did it in 2015.

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan / Getty Images

The win makes Harvick the early season favorite to win the championship. Can he make it four-in-a-row? Harvick has one win at AutoClub Speedway in Fontana. The AutoClub 400 is set for a 3:30 pm start next Sunday on Fox.

 

 

 

Results of the 2018 TicketGuardian 500

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 4 Kevin Harvick 312
2 18 Kyle Busch 0.774 312
3 9 Chase Elliott 4.244 312
4 11 Denny Hamlin 7.037 312
5 78 Martin Truex Jr. 7.52 312
6 14 Clint Bowyer 8.31 312
7 10 Aric Almirola 9.204 312
8 19 Daniel Suarez 10.002 312
9 20 Erik Jones 13.916 312
10 41 Kurt Busch 15.361 312
11 31 Ryan Newman 20.488 312
12 24 William Byron 21.585 312
13 88 Alex Bowman 22.944 312
14 48 Jimmie Johnson 24.153 312
15 2 Brad Keselowski 25.155 312
16 12 Ryan Blaney -1 311
17 3 Austin Dillon -1 311
18 42 Kyle Larson -1 311
19 22 Joey Logano -1 311
20 6 Trevor Bayne -1 311
21 47 AJ Allmendinger -1 311
22 38 David Ragan -1 311
23 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -1 311
24 95 Kasey Kahne -1 311
25 32 Matt DiBenedetto -1 311
26 1 Jamie McMurray -2 310
27 15 Ross Chastain -2 310
28 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. -3 309
29 37 Chris Buescher -3 309
30 13 Ty Dillon -3 309
31 96 DJ Kennington -3 309
32 34 Michael McDowell -4 308
33 51 Timmy Hill -6 306
34 23 Gray Gaulding -8 304
35 0 Jeffrey Earnhardt -20 292
36 21 Paul Menard -123 189
37 72 Corey LaJoie -289 23

 

Points/Playoff Standings

Position Driver Points Wins
1 Kevin Harvick* 155 3
2 Austin Dillon 114 1
3 Ryan Blaney* 152 0
4 Joey Logano* 150 0
5 Martin Truex Jr. 147 0
6 Kyle Busch 139 0
7 Denny Hamlin 130 0
8 Clint Bowyer* 124 0
9 Kyle Larson 123 0
10 Aric Almirola* 123 0
11 Brad Keselowski* 121 0
12 Kurt Busch* 104 0
13 Ryan Newman 101 0
14 Paul Menard* 97 0
15 Erik Jones 92 0
16 Alex Bowman 91 0
Playoff Cut Line
17 Chase Elliott 86 0
18 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* 80 0
19 Darrell Wallace Jr. 77 0
20 Chris Buescher 75 0

*Ford Fusion Drivers

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Steve Sweitzer
Steve is the Sports Editor for the Lasco Press and highlights our coverage of NASCAR and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Steve is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association and a nationally published author of automotive related articles for industry trade magazines. He is also a freelance technical writer and accomplished photographer. A 25-year resident of Southeast Michigan, Steve’s passion for reporting on our community, it’s residents, and our automotive connections allow us to use his skills to cover a number of events. Steve’s ability to seek out the unique behind the scenes accounts that tell the often-overlooked aspect of a story makes for entertaining reading. Follow Steve at thelascopress.com with weekly NASCAR updates and featured articles.