Kevin Harvick Wins At ISM Raceway To Earn Third Consecutive Cup Series Victory

by March 11, 2018 0 comments

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kevin Harvick claimed his third straight victory after winning Sunday’s Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway, following a significant penalty to the No. 4 team of Stewart-Haas Racing earlier in the week.

Harvick now holds nine victories at ISM Raceway, formerly known as Phoenix International Raceway. The driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Jimmy Johns Ford won at Atlanta Motor Speedway before winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway.

After capturing the win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the team was penalized for a rear window issue resulting in a penalty of losing all seven of his Playoff points from the win, crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $50,000, car chief Cheddar Smith was suspended for two races and 20 championship points were lost as well. Harvick expressed his displeasure regarding the penalty by climbing atop of his car on the frontstretch and pounding the back window during his post-race celebration. Despite the adversity, Harvick was thankful he was able to get the win he believed his team deserved.

“I’ve been mad as all get out because this team does a great job,” said Harvick. “This organization does a great job and we’ve got fast race cars. And to take that away from those guys just really pissed me off last week. To come here to a race track that is so good for us is a lot of fun and everyone was just determined this week and we just wanted to just go stomp them. We didn’t stomp them, but we won. That’s all that really matters. Just proud of this team. Put a fire in our belly. I’ve just got to thank everyone at Jimmy John’s, Busch, Ford, Mobile 1, Outback, Hunt Brothers, Morton Buildings, Textron, Liftmaster, Haas Automation. I always forget the owners. Gene Haas and Tony Stewart. What a badass team right there!”

Kyle Busch put up a fight on his way to his second-place finish on Sunday. He led a race high of 128 laps over the course of the 312-lap race. Busch’s effort on Sunday was his second consecutive runner-up finish. The driver of Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Skittles Sweet Heat Toyota has finished inside the top-10 in three of the four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races this season.

“I don’t think anybody’s got anything for Harvick, considering we got our butt beat so bad last week, then we just got beat a little bit this week,” said Busch. “But we were just kind of missing it a little bit there. We were really tight in the long runs. I got by the 4 (Kevin Harvick) there that one run, he was being held up by the 11 (Denny Hamlin) just because of the chaos of being held up, kind of burning his stuff up probably. I was hoping that the 9 (Chase Elliott) was going to do that there, the same thing, last run hold him up a little bit more so I could get there. Didn’t quite work out. Our cars were pretty evenly matched today. If roles were reversed, maybe we would have won. I don’t know.”

Chase Elliott claimed a third-place finish on Sunday, marking his fourth top-10 finish in five starts at ISM Raceway. The top-five finish comes as a relief for Elliott. The driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet has crashed in two of the four races this season. On Sunday though, Elliott had a solid effort as he ran up front for most of the afternoon en route to capturing his first top-five finish of the 2018 season.

“Had to be fun to watch there I guess towards the end,” said Elliott. “It was a good battle between Kevin (Harvick) and Kyle (Busch) and Denny (Hamlin), then eventually us there as it went along. We had a solid afternoon. Just needed a little bit more to get to where Kevin was, try to hold him off. The guys had a great pit stop there at the end, Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made a good call pitting when we did, was able to get the lead. Just wasn’t able to hold him off long enough.”

Denny Hamlin led 33 laps on his way to finishing fourth on Sunday. Martin Truex, Jr. finished fifth after starting on the pole for the race. Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Kurt Busch completed the top-10.

Kyle Busch won Stage 1 of the race, while Kurt Busch stayed out on the track instead of pitting in order to win Stage 2. There were six cautions for a total of 36 laps under yellow on Sunday.

Harvick continues to lead the point standings, now by 12 points over Kyle Busch.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 18 for the final stop of the West Coast swing. Live coverage of the Auto Club 400 will be found on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images

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