Race Weekend Central

Kevin Harvick Earns 9th Win at ISM Raceway

Kevin Harvick didn’t dominate in the desert, but he still won.

Leading just 38 of 312 laps in Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Harvick held off a slew of contenders to win for the third straight weekend in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

The victory is also his record-extending ninth at the 1-mile Arizona track.

But more than anything, it’s a statement win following a penalty to the No. 4 team in Las Vegas.

“I’ve been pissed,” Harvick said. “This team does a great job and we’ve got fast racecars. To take that away from these guys really pissed me off last week. To come here to a track that is so good for us is so fun. We didn’t stomp them, but we won.”

Kyle Busch led the most laps on the day (128) before finishing second. The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was among those in a three-car battle for the lead in the latter quarter of the race.

“It’s just hard to beat that guy,” Busch said. “He was in his own air picking off traffic. He was too fast to beat. I felt if we were in his shoes, we would’ve been the same way.”

Denny Hamlin was the last of those three, falling to fourth after getting passed by both Harvick and Busch. Chase Elliott was the top Chevrolet driver of the day in fourth while pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. completed the top five.

Pit road strategy was rampant as usual at ISM. Two-tire pit stops were the norm under every yellow-flag round of stops and it gave some new names time out front. Kurt Busch won Stage 2 after a one-lap shootout on two tires paid off while rookie William Byron led his first Cup laps (15) in his No. 24.

Ryan Newman made it interesting again with strategy, leading 23 laps late before being forced to pit. He rebounded for 11th.

Clint Bowyer was sixth with Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10. Byron scored a career-best of 12th while Team Penske struggled to 15th, 16th and 19th with Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. Team affiliate Paul Menard had the day’s hardest accident of the day, melting a bead and backing into the Turn 2 wall on lap 189.

About the author

Growing up in Easton, Pa., Zach Catanzareti has grown his auto racing interest from fandom to professional. Joining Frontstretch in 2015, Zach enjoys nothing more than being at the track, having covered his first half-season of 18 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. With experience behind the wheel, behind the camera and in the media center, he thrives on being an all-around reporter.

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