Kevin Harvick emerges victorious once again at ISM Raceway
By Matt Courson
March 11, 2018
AVONDALE, Ariz.—Kevin Harvick, often referred to “The Closer,” closed in on the competition and led the final 22 laps to secure his third consecutive victory of the 2018 season Sunday at ISM Raceway in the Ticket Guardian 500.
“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,” Harvick said. “We didn’t stomp them, but we won.
“That’s all that really matters. Just proud of this team.”
The victory comes just one week after the team was penalized for a rear window violation last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The team was stripped of the five playoff points that was earned for the victory.
“I've been mad as all get out because this team does a great job,” Harvick said. “To take that (victory) 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.”
Kyle Busch was the runner-up, securing his third top-10 finish in 2018. Chase Elliott finished fourth, followed by Martin Truex Jr. in fifth.
While taking advantage of pit strategy, Rookie of the Year contender William Byron led 15 laps for the first time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“I think it just showed myself that I can do it that I can do those restarts up there,” Byron said.
“I know I have the pace up there to run until our handling kind of took over, but I felt like if we can really start to hone in on what we need a little better we are going to be right there.
It’s going to take a little bit of work, but it was fun to at least be up there a little bit.”
The rookie unofficially finished in the 13th position, the highest among the rookie class.
Kyle Busch won the first stage of the event.
Just prior to the end of Stage 2, a yellow flag flew for Chris Buescher who got up into the Turn 4 wall.
Kurt Busch elected to stay out on the racetrack, and held off the field to claim his second stage win of 2018.
Kyle Larson spun on the backstretch on lap 123, which brought out the third caution of the event. Larson would not recover from the spin, and ultimately finished 18th.
Paul Menard got sideways on lap 192 and slammed into the backstretch wall. Damage to the car was too significant for the driver to continue in the race. He would finish in the 36th position unofficially.
The race was slowed four times for single car accidents on track, and 2 for stage conclusions.
Harvick and the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford will seek a fourth consecutive victory next week at Auto Club Speedway.
The Auto Club 400 will air on FOX March 18 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Joshua A. Hill/TRE