Kevin Harvick Begins NASCAR’s West Coast Swing With Win In Las Vegas

Kevin Harvick Begins NASCAR’s West Coast Swing With Win In Las Vegas

by March 8, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images

By: Hunter Thomas
Twitter: @HunterThomas08

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – After qualifying 18th, defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Kevin Harvick dominated the Kobalt 400 on Sunday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to earn his first victory of the 2015 season.

Harvick led a race high of 142 laps on Sunday, and it was the sixth consecutive event where he has finished within the top-two positions. The last driver to earn such a feat was Jeff Gordon back in 1996. Even though Harvick has two NASCAR XFINITY Series victories (2004 and 2010) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sunday’s victory marks his first in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“To win here in Las Vegas, I’ve been racing before the Bullring was ever here,” Harvick said. “I raced here in the mid‑’90s, whether it was at the big track here ‑‑ we won the Winston West Championship here and locked it up in 1998, so this has just been a great place for us to race. And unfortunately, we hadn’t won up until this point, but the longer that it goes in my career, it’s just like the championship last year, being able to enjoy all those moments and enjoy being around the guys and seeing all the sponsors and everybody involved is something that’s pretty special to me at this point in my career.

“I’m excited to come on the West Coast swing, but when we can start winning races, I know that there’s a lot of those fans that have sat out there since the mid ’90s and, at least since my rookie year, supported us and you’ll see them at all three races this time. And there’s just a little extra incentive and a lot of fun to hear all the positive remarks, I guess, as you walk through the garage.”

Coming off of last weekend’s win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson was looking to extend his winning streak in the Nevada desert. However, after bringing out the caution on Lap 173, and then again on Lap 187, both for blown tires, Johnson had to settle for a disappointing 41st place finish.

“Yeah, the first one, they said the bead blew on it,” Johnson said. “We don’t have any brake temp here, so I don’t know what could have caused that. That’s kind of a freak deal. The second one, it went soft. So there could have been some damage that caused it or some rub or something like that, and it went soft going into Turn 3 and I hit the wall, unfortunately. I’m disappointed. We certainly had an awesome race car. I wish we could have won this KOBALT race in this KOBALT car, but we’ll come back next week.”

The final caution of the afternoon came out on Lap 195 when Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne got together. The accident started in Turn 4 when Edwards slid up the track, pinning Kahne against the outside wall. As the two drivers entered Turn 1, Kahne got into Edwards, causing him to spin down to the apron. Kahne finished 17th, and Edwards finished 42nd.

“I was being too aggressive on that restart,” Edwards said. “Kasey (Kahne) got on the outside of me and he got just the right position. I started to slide up and I should have backed out of it way earlier. That’s completely my fault and that’s what ruined our day. It’s tough. I feel really bad for Comcast Business and everyone. I feel bad for Kasey Kahne’s team. That’s not something I normally do, so I have to make it up to everybody next week at Phoenix.”

In the closing laps, Harvick had to maneuver through lapped traffic, but in the end, he took the checkered flag to capture his 29th career win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Martin Truex Jr. kept up his early-season momentum and finished a strong second. Ryan Newman finished third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top-five.

“It got to be a handful there at the end,” Harvick said. “For whatever reason we got really, really loose the last run. Tires started vibrating and we were just kind of hanging on. Glad the race is over at that particular point for our own good. Everybody on our Jimmy Johns/Budweiser Chevrolet has done a great job. Everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing I want to thank them for everything that they do.”

Kevin Harvick now leads Dale Earnhardt Jr. by nine points in the championship point standings.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues its West Coast swing as the series heads to Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 15 for the 500. Coverage for the event will air live on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Kobalt 400 Results:
1.) #4 Kevin Harvick
2.) #78 Martin Truex Jr.
3.) #31 Ryan Newman
4.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5.) #11 Denny Hamlin
6.) #47 AJ Allmendinger
7.) #2 Brad Keselowski
8.) #42 Kyle Larson
9.) #20 Matt Kenseth
10.) #22 Joey Logano
11.) #1 Jamie McMurray
12.) #27 Paul Menard
13.) #33 Brian Scott
14.) #16 Greg Biffle
15.) #33 Brian Scott
16.) #41 Regan Smith
17.) #5 Kasey Kahne
18.) #24 Jeff Gordon
19.) #21 Ryan Blaney
20.) #3 Austin Hill
21.) #15 Clint Bowyer
22.) #18 David Ragan
23.) #38 David Gilliland
24.) #9 Sam Hornish Jr.
25.) #13 Casey Mears
26.) #43 Aric Almirola
27.) #10 Danica Patrick
28.) #6 Trevor Bayne
29.) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
30.) #95 Michael McDowell
31.) #51 Justin Allgaier
32.) #35 Cole Whitt
33.) #14 Tony Stewart
34.) #98 Josh Wise
35.) #40 Landon Cassill
36.) #23 JJ Yeley
37.) #34 Brett Moffitt
38.) #62 Brendan Gaughan
39.) #46 Michael Annett
40.) #26 Jeb Burton
41.) #48 Jimmie Johnson
42.) #19 Carl Edwards
43.) #7 Alex Bowman

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Top-16 Point Standings:
1.) #4 Kevin Harvick
2.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. -9
3.) #22 Joey Logano -11
4.) #78 Martin Truex Jr. -16
5.) #47 AJ Allmendinger -34
6.) #5 Kasey Kahne -42
7.) #48 Jimmie Johnson -43
8.) #11 Denny Hamlin -47
9.) #13 Casey Mears -47
10.) #20 Matt Kenseth -49
11.) #16 Greg Biffle -50
12.) #31 Ryan Newman -52
13.) #27 Paul Menard -52
14.) #15 Clint Bowyer -53
15.) #43 Aric Almirola -54
16.) #2 Brad Keselowski -57

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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