Tha Sports Junkies 101

Harvick Scores Historic 3rd-Straight Victory at Phoenix

At The Stripe Episode 3 focuses on Kevin Harvick's Phoenix Win Photo by NASCAR Media


One name is the man to beat whenever the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Phoenix, Kevin Harvick. For the 3rd-straight week, Harvick was able to outlast the competition in order to win at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway.

Harvick and his number 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team had extra motivation to perform this week. Earlier in the week, the 4 team was heavily penalized for a broken window bracket in Las Vegas. The penalty for the broken window bracket, in addition to a side skirt issue, was very costly for the team. Crew Chief Rodney Childers was fined $50,000, Car Chief Robert Smith was suspended, and the Playoff benefits for the Vegas win were stripped away.

With this penalty, Harvick was very vocal about his displeasure for the reaction from the NASCAR community. As a result, the ‘Cactus King’ had more motivation than ever to win at Phoenix.

Early Race Highlights

Martin Truex Jr. won the pole during qualifying on Friday. Though he started first, Kyle Larson would lead lap 1, and set the pace early on. On lap 58, Kyle Busch took the lead. Busch would hold on to win Stage 1.

Kyle Busch went on to dominate Stage 2 as well. Larson spun on lap 122, bringing out a brief caution. Another late caution in Stage 2 would split pit strategy, with the leaders being buried deep in the field. This led to Kurt Busch winning Stage 2.

Lap 178 saw Kevin Harvick, who started the race in the 10th position, take the lead for the first time. Not long after, caution number 6 was brought out when Paul Menard hit the wall off of turn 2.

Though Harvick has a history of dominating races at ISM Raceway, he would only lead 38 laps en route to his victory. On the flip side, Kyle Busch led a race-high 128 laps. There was a great mid-race battle for the lead between Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Busch, and Chase Elliott, which resulted in Busch leading.

Late race pit strategy saw Chase Elliott briefly hold position over Harvick, but Harvick motored his way around the 9 car and to the lead with 23 laps remaining. Busch would also get by Elliott to finish 2nd. The remainder of the top 10 finishers were Elliott, Hamlin, Truex, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, and Kurt Busch.

After taking the checkered flag, Harvick gestured towards his rear window in his post-race celebration. This was in reference to his aforementioned penalty. In victory lane, Harvick said how “pissed off” the penalty and its response from fans had made him all week long. He went on to say how “winning here was bigger than winning at Homestead.”

Historical Significance of Harvick’s Win

Kevin Harvick is the first driver to record their 3rd-straight win since 2015. He has won 3 of the first 4 races in 2018, a mark not seen since 1992. This win also marks the 40th of Harvick’s career, which ties Hall-of-Famer Mark Martin for 18th on the all-time win list. In short, Harvick’s 3rd-straight win holds a larger status than many of his other wins.

Kevin Harvick is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader after 3 wins in the first 4 races. The next stop for Harvick and the rest of NASCAR will be Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The Auto Club 400 will be next Sunday, March 18 at 3:30 PM EST on Fox, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.