Kevin Harvick’s torrid run through the Sprint Cup Series continued with a dominant win in the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Harvick, who started from the pole position for the first time on the 1-mile oval, scored his second consecutive victory after winning last Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It was his fourth straight win at Phoenix and fifth in six races. He has a record seven wins at the track.
Harvick, who led 224 of 312 laps, has seven straight top-two finishes (four wins and three seconds) dating to his 2014 championship season.
How Harvick won: After falling from first to fourth on a two-tire stop under yellow, Harvick seized first from Brad Keselowski just past the midpoint of the race and fended off runner-up Jamie McMurray after a restart with 15 laps left in scoring his 30th victory in NASCAR’s premier series.
Ryan Newman was third, followed by Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch.
Fast forward: In his first race since serving a three-race suspension, Busch ran as high as second after starting eighth in the No. 41 Chevrolet. Before the race, he addressed the domestic abuse allegations that led to his punishment. … Jeff Gordon ran as high as third and took ninth after opening the season with two pole positions but finishes of 33rd, 41st and 18th in the first three races.
In reverse: Dale Earnhardt suffered his first DNF since Aug. 23 at Bristol Motor Speedway. A flat right rear because of a melted bead sent his No. 88 Chevrolet into the wall and caused a caution on lap 181. It was the first finish outside the top 40 for Earnhardt since he was last at Texas Motor Speedway last April. … Brian Vickers crashed on the second lap, scuttling the promise of a 15th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in his return from missing the first two races with heart surgery. Vickers finished outside the top 40 Sunday. … Sam Hornish Jr. spun on lap 116 (also because of a melted bead on the right-rear tire of his No. 9 Ford), ensuring his worst finish of his first four starts with Richard Petty Motorsports.
Quote of the day: Kurt Busch in postrace Fox interview: “It means I’ve got a strong team. Personally, it’s great to get back to them and produce a result like this on the first day back. … I can’t thank them enough for believing in me. The truth will be shown later on. The way we raced today was with heart. I thought there was enough goodwill in the back to bring home a win, but Kevin’s tough.”
Notables: Tony Stewart was on the verge of scoring his first top 10 this season when he spun on lap 236, appearing to lose control of his No. 14 Chevrolet while battling Justin Allgaier for position. Stewart crashed again with 24 laps remaining and finished outside the top 30 for the fourth consecutive time to open the 2015 season. … Jimmie Johnson made contact with Vickers on the second lap and spent much of the rest of the race out of contention.
What’s next: The series heads to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., next weekend. There will be no repeat winner – last year’s race was won by Kyle Busch, who is sidelined with a broken right leg and fractured left foot.