Phoenix Was A Time To “Let The Big Dog Eat”

Kevin Harvick

(WOMR file photo)

Kevin Harvick put on a driving clinic for all to watch in the 2014 Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500(k) , dominating the day leading 264 laps!  That is some serious domination, folks!

Kevin Harvick bulled his way into the four-driver, all-deciding, Championship Race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoffs when he won at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday.

The victory was Harvick’s fourth (4) of the year, second of the 10-race Chase and, as it turned out, it ( the win) was also going to be the only way he was going to transfer into the “final four” for the championship race at Homestead..

Also earning berths in in the Championship Race were Denny Hamlin (fifth Sunday), Joey Logano (sixth) and Ryan Newman (11th).

Chasers Jeff Gordon finished second Sunday, Matt Kenseth third and Brad Keselowski fourth on Sunday but all failed to make the playoff finale.

Gordon appeared to have made the finale on points but on the final lap, Newman opted to force rookie Kyle Larson up into the wall near Turn 4 and in doing so, passed him and earn enough points to edge Gordon for the final Championship Race berth.

Newman said he had to do what he had to do vis a vis Larson and Gordon.

“I just gave it my all,” Newman said. “I wasn’t proud of it but did what I had to to get to this next round. That little boy has got a lot of things coming in this sport and he used me up like that in a truck at Eldora a couple years ago. From my standpoint, I call it even but I think if he was in my position, he’d have done the same thing.”

Gordon said he was disappointed about not making the finale, and also sounded as though he’s still holding  Keselowski  responsible:  Keselowski crashed into Gordon late in the race a week ago at Texas Motor Speedway when Kes stuck the nose of his Ford into a hole that maybe only a motorcycle would have fit without causing a crash.

“I hope we caught somebody who you could race clean and still go out and give it your best and you don’t have to wreck people to make in in the Chase or win the championship,” Gordon said.

Asked about Newman running Larson into the wall to get the final berth, Gordon said, “Well, he ran him wide. I don’t know if I’d say he wrecked him. He certainly ran him up the race track. That’s the system that we have. Wait until next week when the championship is on the line. You’re going to see a lot more than that. That’s what NASCAR wants this to become to create intensity and interest and that’s what’s going to happen. You have to expect it. But just like what happened on pit road last week, there are lines that need to be drawn or somebody’s going to cross the line and they’ll have to back everybody up.”

Harvick earned his berth by dominating at PIR. He took the lead on Lap 44 and stayed in command the rest of the way. On restart after restart, he would keep his lead and then increase it into much bigger leads.

Harvick and Gordon ran 1-2 as the laps wound down and that was the way they finished.

“Kevin Harvick was in another zip code,” Gordon said. “I’m not going to wreck a guy that’s racing me clean all year long just to make it into the Chase. That’s not what it’s all about for me. You’re not going to go win the championship next week by doing that. So, it’s just unfortunate. It’s just unfortunate. We did everything so good this year. That one race, that one race is going to stick with me for a little while. I got over it this week, knowing that we could come here and compete like this.

“Now it makes it sting that much more. But, I couldn’t be more proud of what this team did this year. What a great season and great race cars. That’s what I’m most disappointed in. I don’t think anybody deserves to be Homestead more than this #24 team because of the effort that they put in and the performances that we’ve had. But, you know what? You’ve got to score the points or win the races to get in there and we didn’t do that. So now we’ll go to Homestead and battle hard to try to win that race.”

Tune into the season finale Sunday, it should be a barn burner!



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