Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Driver Scores Series-High Seventh Win at Phoenix
Date: March 15, 2015
Event: CampingWorld.com 500k (Round 4 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Phoenix International Raceway (1-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 1st/1st (Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 1st with 182 points
Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet)
Another race at Phoenix International Raceway, another victory lane celebration for Kevin Harvick.
The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) dominated Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race, as he started from the pole position and led four times for a race-high 224 laps en route to his series-high seventh win at Phoenix. It was the fifth time in his career that Harvick has won from the pole.
Harvick has won five of the last six races at Phoenix, including the last four straight.
The victory was Harvick’s 30th career win in 506 career starts and his fourth in the last seven races dating back to Texas Motor Speedway in November. This was Harvick’s seventh straight finish of second or better. The last time a driver had seven consecutive top-two finishes was NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty in 1975.
Harvick also became the first repeat winner of 2015 with Sunday’s victory, following his first-place finish in last weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I think when you look at the start of this year, we know each other so much better,” Harvick said. “We have a lot of things different than what we had last year, and we had that experience of everything that we did to race for the championship. So, I just feel like the bond between this team is really special. (Crew chief) Rodney Childers and myself and the engineers and everybody get along so good. It’s almost scary how well things are going. You don’t want to talk about it too much, because you want it to keep going. But I’m just really proud of these guys on this team and everything that they do.”
Once again, Harvick’s No. 4 car lived up to sponsor Jimmy John’s “freaky fast” motto. Harvick started on the pole and dominated the racing action. Harvick only fell out of the top-five for a handful of laps during the course of the 312-lap race. With 224 laps led during Sunday’s race, Harvick has now led a series-best 1,202 laps at the 1-mile oval.
While Harvick’s No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet were the class of the field on Sunday at Phoenix, there were some anxious moments for the crew at the end of the race. Thanks to a late-race caution, Harvick and Childers had to decide whether to pit or stay out with less than 25 laps to go.
The duo made the call to stay out under the caution at lap 290, while many others opted to pit for fresh tires. Harvick, who was on older tires, had to hold off a hard-charging Jamie McMurray on two separate restarts in the closing laps of the race. And while McMurray was able to take the lead from Harvick for one lap following the final restart, Harvick was able to quickly overtake him and then lead the final 16 laps of the race to secure the win.
“The restarts were just really slippery, and I learned that in the race yesterday,” Harvick said. “You had to really maintain your entrance speed and really slide the thing through the center of the corner to try to help keep it pointed up off. But I just want to thank the fans. This is a really special place of all these West Coast races for us to win. I want to thank everybody who helps us on this car and everybody at SHR. These things are incredible and really fun to drive.”
The win was the 27th points-paying Sprint Cup win for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s second this season.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished fifth in the CampingWorld.com 500k. It was his sixth top-five in 25 career Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix and his first top-five of 2015.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 26th.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 39th. Stewart had raced his way into the top-10 after starting 17th, but his day ended early after two separate accidents damaged his car beyond repair.
McMurray finished 1.153 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Busch rounded out the top-five. Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Larson comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 53 laps, with two drivers failing to finish the 312-lap race.
With round four of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is first with 182 points, 22 ahead of second-place Logano. Patrick is 23rd with 86 points, 96 out of first. Busch is 33rd with 39 points, 143 out of first. Stewart is 36th with 32 points, 150 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 22 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 3 p.m.