Kevin Harvick's No. 29 Richard Childress Chevrolet may have been low on juice at the close of 312 laps at Phoenix International Raceway. But, that wasn't going to keep him from fighting for his fifth win this season. Harvick experienced battery...
Kevin Harvick's No. 29 Richard Childress Chevrolet may have been low on juice at the close of 312 laps at Phoenix International Raceway. But, that wasn't going to keep him from fighting for his fifth win this season.
Harvick experienced battery voltage problems during the event, forcing him to get a push from the tow truck after a red flag stopped the field with five to go. The bump gave Harvick the kick start he needed to take the green flag as the leader and hold off Jimmie Johnson to score the victory.
"This Reese's Cookie Chevrolet was just awesome," said Harvick. "Jimmie got a run on me but I wasn't going to give up the lead at that point. We led the most laps and won the race and he (Johnson) was still right there behind us, we will just keep doing what we need to do."
Harvick dominated the event leading 252 of 312 laps on his way to his tenth career victory.
Johnson played it safe to maintain the Championship lead and finished second, "I felt racy there at the end and I wanted to go and get those ten points but I ran out of time. I had a great run on Kevin going into the dogleg on the back straightaway but he wasn't willing to give up that piece of real estate. There was a moment there that I needed to get out of the gas and be smart and I did that and we will see if it pays off."
Denny Hamlin was third, "We had such a strong car on the long runs, I don't know why we struggled on the short runs. But we did and we started losing more and more ground. Mike (Ford, crew chief) made some adjustments there at the end where I could start picking guys off."
Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards complete the top five.
"I feel like we gained a lot," said Gordon. "We are just missing a little something. Whether it be my driving style or the set-up. But we were closer today than we have ever been. I know we are out of the championship but we are going to go to Homestead and try and win that race and help Jimmie."
Pole sitter Gordon led just three laps before being passed for the lead by the No. 29 Chevy of Harvick. He rocketed to the front grabbing a two-second advantage over the field by lap 52. Harvick remained the leader through the first caution but Gordon was able to catch Harvick on the restart but could not complete the pass.
Edwards caught Gordon for second, slowing his pursuit of Harvick and allowing the No. 29 Chevy to start stretching out his lead to a second over the rest of the field. Lapped traffic slowed Harvick and on lap 134, Johnson (who started 29th) passed for the lead.
Johnson was still leading when the caution fell for the second time on lap 150 for debris. The leaders pitted with Johnson making it out first to retain the lead. Harvick caught the 48 Chevy on lap 162 regaining the lead.
Harvick was still leading when the third yellow waved at lap 189. The leaders pitted with Harvick beating the field out of the pits followed by Edwards and Kasey Kahne. Johnson had lug nut problems in the pits and emerged seventh.
The fourth caution fell when Robby Gordon wrecked on lap 225. After service stops, Harvick kept the lead and quickly jumped back out to a one-second advantage over second-place Edwards.
Johnson passed Edwards for second with 67 laps to go, and began trying to catch Harvick. Johnson got lucky on lap 253 when the fifth caution waved bringing the field to the pits.
Mark Martin made a two-tire pit stop to grab the lead on the restart at lap 256, just as Harvick was about to pass for the lead on 265, Martin got a reprieve when the sixth caution fell.
Martin restarted in the lead with 41 to go; he was slowed a lap later when a multi-car crash involving Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman brought out the seventh caution.
The field restarted with 31 to go with Martin still the leader. It took Harvick just one lap to make the pass on Martin to reclaim the lead. On lap 291, Dale Jarrett and Sterling Marlin got together causing the eighth caution.
Harvick restarted in the lead with 17 to go but only made it five laps before the ninth yellow emerged after a wreck involving Jeff Green. The No. 29 Chevy led on the restart at lap 305 but they only got one lap before Casey Mears caused the 10th caution. The race was red-flagged for clean up with five laps left to settle it.
Harvick, who had been experiencing voltage problems throughout the race, needed a bump from the tow-truck to re-fire, but he restarted in the lead with three to go. Johnson got Harvick sideways on the restart but Harvick shut the door on the pass. Johnson tried one more time to get the lead but he couldn't complete the pass; giving Harvick the season sweep at Phoenix.
Only the top-five drivers remain mathematically eligible for the 2006 Nextel Cup. Jimmie Johnson leads followed by Matt Kenseth (-63), Kevin Harvick (-90), Denny Hamlin (-90), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-115), Jeff Gordon (-167), Jeff Burton (-225), Mark Martin (-273), Kasey Kahne (-319) and Kyle Busch (-359) complete the top ten.
There were 10 cautions for 58 laps and 12 lead changes among seven drivers.