Richard Childress Racing
Harvick Wins Phoenix
November 10, 2013
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Jimmie Johnson survived a close call and a succession of less-than-stellar restarts.
Matt Kenseth couldn’t overcome handling problems that kept his car mired in traffic.
And Kevin Harvick took advantage of Carl Edwards’ fuel shortage to win his fourth race of the season in Sunday's Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, keeping alive his faint hopes of winning a championship in his final season with Richard Childress Racing.
The net result? Johnson, who finished third, widened his lead over the struggling Kenseth, who ran 23rd, and took a giant step toward his sixth series championship.
Johnson expanded his advantage in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings from seven to 28 points over Kenseth entering next Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Johnson can clinch the title with a finish of 23rd or better, 24th if he leads one lap and 25th if he leads the most laps.
By winning the race and leading the most laps, Harvick, who is third in the standings, narrowed his deficit to Johnson from 40 to 34 points and is still within range of the title, should Johnson have issues at Homestead.
The victory was Harvick's fourth at the one-mile track and the 23rd of his career. He led 70 of the 312 laps to clinch the 200th win for the Childress organization in a NASCAR national series.
Kasey Kahne ran second, followed by Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch. Edwards, who ran out of gas while leading on the next-to-last lap, finished 21st.
It was Edwards, too, who slid up into Johnson’s car on Lap 163, dropping Johnson back to 24th after Harvick took them three-wide entering Turn 1. Johnson made a spectacular save and spent the rest of the race working his way toward the front.
Kenseth's adventures predominantly came on pit road. The former series champion got off cycle just before the halfway point and battled an ill-handling car through much of the day, reporting to crew chief Jason Ratcliff that his car was “undriveable.” Worse, a miscommunication on a 164th-lap stop under caution resulted in a dramatically sluggish trip to pit lane that lasted nearly 26 seconds and dropped Kenseth from seventh to 29th in the running order.
Harvick, ironically, ran out of gas as he made his final pit stop in the 267th lap, slowing on the backstretch. After a quick refueling visit, he rallied.
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