Freaky Fast: A phrase that has quickly become a cliché to Kevin Harvick and the Stewart-Haas Racing team the last 12 months, but a truth is a truth.
For 142 of the 267 laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Harvick was clear of the pack and showing the rest of the field how it was done. If you watch last week’s Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, you saw the same type of performance by the 39-year-old, minus the winner’s trophy.
This time, he was victorious, winning the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“It’s so cool to win here at Las Vegas,” Harvick said in Victory Lane. “To start this West Coast swing off this way is pretty awesome. To be in front of the fans that I’ve raced in front of since the mid-’90s is pretty awesome. It’s special to win here.”
The victory, the 29th of his career, continues a six-race streak of finishing no worse than second, dating back to Martinsville’s second race in 2014. Although he qualified 18th on Friday, he made his way into the top 5 within 60 laps.
The race went rather clean and clear for the No. 4, but it did not go without some drama near the finish as the team believed they may have had a loose wheel.
“I don’t know (what it was) but it wasn’t right,” Harvick said. “Luckily we were able to hang onto it and had a good enough lead to where we could pace ourselves and be able to keep the lead.”
“It was just a lot of fun this weekend,” said Rodney Childers, crew chief of the No. 4. “To struggle a little bit on Friday, I think we needed that as a race team to kind of wake everybody up and say that you’re not invisible.”
As the race evolved, Martin Truex, Jr. drove from his eighth starting spot into the top 5. Before they knew it, the No. 78 car became one of only a few to pass the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet on track for the lead.
“Harvick was so fast all day,” Truex told FOX after his second-place result. “I got the lead on him once there on the restart, thought, ‘Hey, this is pretty cool’, but didn’t have anything to hold him off. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.”
For Truex, it was his first top 5 since Kansas last October and his third straight top 10.
“Just a solid weekend. The guys are making good decisions. We’re not having any terrible luck so we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Contact between Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne brought out the first caution due to an on-track incident. As Kahne was able to continue on and finish 17th, Edwards was stricken in the garage area and came home 42nd.
Last week’s winner Jimmie Johnson was the early favorite to score back-to-back wins in 2015. However, in the final 100 laps of the Kobalt 400, Johnson blew not one but two right front tires, each leading to hard hits into the SAFER barrier wall.
“Disappointing. We certainly had an awesome racecar,” Johnson said while sitting in his No. 48 in the garage. “Wish we could’ve won this Kobalt race in the Kobalt car but we will come back next week.”
The top 10 included Ryan Newman in third with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. capturing his third consecutive top 5 to start 2015. Denny Hamlin, AJ Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano rounded out the top 10.
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