Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman were unable to run him down in the closing laps.
Kevin Harvick continues to set the world on fire, ending his 2014 championship run with three top-two finishes and kicking off his 2015 campaign with the same result. Sunday in Las Vegas, he claimed the 29th victory of his career and his first at this circuit after 15 starts.
"It’s so cool to win here in Las Vegas and start this West Coast swing off this way is pretty awesome," said Harvick. "Just to be in front of all these fans I’ve raced in front of since about the mid-‘90’s. It’s pretty special to win here. I’ve got to thank Jimmy John’s, Budweiser, Chevrolet, and everybody on this car that makes it go around; and all these guys and everyone at Stewart-Haas for what they do.”
"We just have to keep our heads down and keep doing everything that we've been doing," the winner added. "This isn't a bunch of guys that are just going to go out and brag We're going to race every week like we have never won a race before. That's the kind of determination that you need when you are going to do this stuff."
Truex comes one spot short
"He was getting bigger in my mirror, but I believe he was playing with everybody," admitted Martin Truex Jr. "He was just really, really strong. I was proud that we fought the way we did. We were off a bit at the start of the race, and got better throughout the day. At the end of the day we were the best that we were all day. I think without going to the garage and making a little adjustment we felt like we needed, we probably weren't going to get even close to the No. 4
The best of the rest
The ECR-powered cars of Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman attempted to run the No. 4 down, but to no avail as he cruised to the checkered flag with a two second cushion. After a late-race call for two tires and an unspecified issue, Dale Earnhardt Jr. dropped to fourth and out of contention for a podium result. Denny Hamlin led the way for Toyota in fifth.
I had a problem at the end of the race that I didn't want to talk about on the radio
Dale Jr. after falling off late in the race
Furniture Row wasn't the only single-car operation flexing their muscles today with A.J. Allmendinger and JTG backing up their seventh at Atlanta with a sixth place result at Las Vegas. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, and Joey Logano rounded out the top ten.
A rough day for Hendrick
Today wasn't the best of races for the powerhouse known as Hendrick Motorsports. Despite taking three of the top four spots in qualifying, Jr. was the only one of the four to complete the 267-lap race inside the top 16.
"I had a problem at the end of the race that I didn't want to talk about on the radio," said Earnhardt after the checkered flag.
Jimmie Johnson suffered three tire issues that slowly destroyed his day. The first was caught before the No. 48 sustained any damage, but last week's winner was forced to give up the lead. The second put the team a lap behind and caused right side damage. The third one sent Johnson to the garage with major right front damage.
During the second tire failure, teammate Jeff Gordon took on nose damage when he ran into the back of a slowing Jeb Burton, relegating him to 18th in the running order. "Son of a bitch, I (freaking) destroyed the nose," Gordon radioed. Kasey Kahne got pushed up into the wall by Carl Edwards, which damaged both sides of the No. 5 while running up in the third spot. He would finish 17th.
The race was slowed by six caution periods including a competition yellow on lap 25. Harvick led the most laps at 142. Brian Scott (13th) & Ryan Blaney (19th) scored their best career Sprint Cup finishes today. Also, a returning Brian Vickers came home 15th after being sidelined with more health problems for the first two races, one of the highest placing Toyotas in the field.
Harvick, along with Earnhardt and Logano top the championship standings with three single-car operations inside the top nine .. All three having an alliance with RCR/ECR engines.