In an overtime shootout, Kevin Harvick beat Carl Edwards by a hundredth of a second after making contact multiple times coming to the checkered flag in the Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
The eighth victory for Harvick at the 1-mile track represented the closest margin of victory at PIR since the advent of electronic monitoring and scoring.
After restarting fourth behind Harvick on Lap 312 with fresh right-side tires, Edwards’ final effort to earn the win started by getting under Harvick in the final corners.
“That was not the car that I wanted to see behind me,” Harvick told Fox. “I knew I could beat him (in Turns 1 and 2). I tried to protect the bottom in (Turns) 3 and 4, and I just missed the bottom with all the rubber buildup on the tires and everything.”
After pulling even on the inside, Edwards side-drafted Harvick, making contact once. Harvick returned the favor, causing enough separation to put his bumper ahead of Edward’s.
“I should have wrecked him!” Edwards joked with Fox. “But we were faster and I thought ‘I’ll just move him out of the way and get by.’ I just didn’t move him far enough. Then he got up to (my) door and I was trying to time it (and thought) ‘I think he’s going to beat me’ so I tried to side swipe him, but I needed to be in front of his front tire.”
Harvick led twice for a race-high 139 laps on the way to his first win of the season. It’s the No. 4 team’s first win since the fall Dover race last year.
It was the 23rd time Harvick has led the most laps in a race since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, but only the eighth time it translated into a win for the No. 4 team.
“It’s just one of those places where I feel like I’ve been here enough times to where I can move around and find something to make our car work,” Harvick said. “We struggled a lot this weekend to get the balance where we wanted to, but we knew the feel that we were looking for.”
HOW KEVIN HARVICK WON: Harvick led the final 79 laps, which included one overtime lap after a late caution, as he fended off Carl Edwards and his two fresh tires in a photo finish.
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Denny Hamlin bounced back from an uncontrolled tire penalty to finish third for his best result since winning the Dayton 500 … pole-sitter Kyle Busch finished fourth for his eighth straight top-five finish … Dale Earnhardt Jr. started 26th but was in the lead by Lap 75, where he stayed for 34 laps. Earnhardt was second on the final restart, before quickly falling back to fifth on old tires .. After three frustrating weeks, Matt Kenseth quietly earned his first top-10 finish by placing seventh … Matt DiBenedetto finished 20th, one lap down. The BK Racing driver’s career best result is 18th.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Goodyear and its right-side tires. The Richard Childress Racing entries of Ryan Newman and Paul Menard hit the Turn 3 wall on laps 53 and 105 respectively as a result of a melted tire bead from brake heat. … Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s car also was a victim when the No. 17 went into the Turn 1 wall on Lap 163. … With 86 laps to go, Brad Keselowski lost his right-rear tire, but did not hit the wall. Debris from the No. 2 brought out the fourth caution. Keselowski finished 29th …. A melted bead sent Kasey Kahne into the Turn 4 wall to bring out the final caution. Kahne finished 22nd, one lap down.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We had an awesome car and that’s three weeks in a row I’ve enjoyed the hell out of driving it.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. after finishing fifth.
NEXT: Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on March 20 at 3:30 p.m. ET