Motorsport News

Kevin Harvick Falls Just Short of No. 10 at Phoenix

2023 Cup Phoenix I Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford (Credit: NKP)

Maybe you can put a career’s worth of drama into a single race.

Kevin Harvick came into Sunday’s (March 12) NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway as the best driver the track had ever seen, as one of the best drivers any single track has ever seen. There was nothing but open track between him as the laps ticked by — 20 to go, then 15, then 12. And he walked away empty-handed.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. Harvick drove an almost flawless race, and all he needed was 10 more laps. He’d blown by Kyle Larson for the lead with 44 laps to go, opened it up to over four seconds and was still pulling away with 10 laps to go.

Maybe NASCAR was a little too quick with the caution. Maybe Harvick should have gambled and stayed out on old tires or maybe just taken two as several cars did.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Harvick’s numbers at Phoenix speak for themselves, and he didn’t need the win to extend a streak of top-10 finishes that goes back a full decade. Nor did he need it to boost his career-long streak of finishing races at this track.

But it was evident in the way he raced that Harvick wanted that 10th Phoenix win badly. 

The No. 4 team’s strategy was rock-solid. Harvick started 15th but made his way forward early on. He cracked the top 10 early and finished eighth in stage 1 before backing it up by climbing to third by the end of the second stage.

Harvick made it a two-car race with Larson from the start of the final stage on. The final round of green-flag stops put him in perfect position to capitalize on leader Larson’s lone mistake in the closing laps. Larson slipped up the track in turns 3 and 4, and Harvick pounced, making passing look easy on a day where it wasn’t.

From there, Harvick raced with a vengeance, opening up the lead as the run went on. It was his to lose.

And then Harrison Burton spun. It looked harmless — Burton didn’t hit anything and drove away immediately. But the damage was done.

Harvick led the field into the pits, but he took four tires while five or six others took two, and when the restart came with just five laps to go, there was no room to make a move and no time for a second chance. The caution flew again for a spin by AJ…

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