Happy Harvick spun doughnuts, blew smoke and savored his Budweiser after winning his fourth 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday at the AdvoCare 500 on the one-mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway. His smile was infectious and he was gloriously in the moment after the race.
PIR is one of Harvick’s favorite race track, and four was his favorite number Sunday. He’s won four races in Phoenix, the most he’s won at any track.
Sunday’s win was Harvick’s twenty-third victory in 465 Sprint Cup starts.
Harvick cleaned up in the awards department, leading the most laps-three times for 70 laps, turning the fastest race lap, Driver of the Weekend, Restart Award, and for his Engine Builder-Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines.
Harvick’s Crew Chief, GIL MARTIN, said “The stressful part of it is trying to go over all the scenarios. No matter how many you go over you don’t ever go over the one you needed, and that’s the one today that we didn’t really go over last night – about trying to make certain how much fuel we were going to put in at the end on a green‑flag run, and that made such a huge difference.”
KASEY KAHNE/No.5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was runner-up, which moved him up to twelfth in the standings.
Pole Sitter and Chase Points Leader, JIMMIE JOHNSON in No.48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet finished third after leading just one lap, and increased his Chase Championship lead from seven to 28 points ahead of Contenders MATT KENSETH in No.20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and 34 points ahead of Harvick.
Johnson said “I knew I had a great race car and that makes life a lot easier. I really had to fall back on my dirt driving skills racing out here in the desert all the years that I did. All those incidents were close”
Those three drivers are the only drivers mathematically eligible to win the 2013 Driver’s Championship. All Johnson has to do next weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway is to finish twenty-third. If he leads a lap, his best finish needs to be twenty-fourth, and if he leads the most laps, he can finish twenty-fifth and still clinch the championship.
Kenseth finished twenty-third, one lap down, after running strong for most of the race, despite handling problems. “Obviously, it didn’t drive good or we would have been up there with the front group. I just did all I could with it — which wasn’t much.”
Kenseth, the 2003 Cup Champion, won seven races this season, and had two pole positions. He was understandably disappointed in Sunday’s race. “I think the day is pretty self-explanatory. We just really struggled. Honestly, it was the first day like that — that we’ve had all season long. That just — gosh that speaks volumes about my team, we haven’t had a day like that all year where we’ve been far enough (back) where we couldn’t stay on the lead lap. Just couldn’t be prouder to drive the Dollar General Camry. It was an unfortunate, disappointing day, but man we did the best we could do. We just were off today.”
Fourth was DALE EARNHARDT/No.88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, who remains fifth in the standings. KURT BUSCH/No.78 Furniture Row Chevrolet was fifth and is still tenth in the standings.
The top Rookie was RICKY STENHOUSE/No.17 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford, finishing in twelfth position.
Thirty-six drivers finished the race, with 21 cars on the lead lap – the last being the unlucky CARL EDWARDS/No.99 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford. He ran out of fuel while leading at the end of the race. He said “We did a really good job, but we just needed a little more fuel. We just miscalculated. I thought we were a lap to the good. I was saving just a little bit of fuel, but obviously not enough. I don’t know if I could have saved a lap and kept Kevin behind me in hindsight, but that’s a tough way to lose one there. We haven’t run out of fuel in a long time.”
The race lead changed 23 times among thirteen drivers, seven being during pit stops. JEFF GORDON/No.24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet led the most times – four, for 49 laps. He finished fourteenth.
Eight drivers retired, with six being for mechanical reasons. Two drivers were caught up in an accident – DAVID REUTIMANN/No.83 BK Racing Toyota and COLE WHITT/No.30 Swan Racing Toyota. Neither driver was hurt.
The Sprint Cup Chase season finale race is the Ford EcoBoost 400 race at Homestead Miami Speedway Sunday 17 October. It will air live at 3pm ET on ESPN, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.