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MENCS: Harvick wins third straight

(MRN) Kevin Harvick continued an early-season march through the NASCAR schedule with his third straight victory on Sunday, winning at I-S-M Raceway in Phoenix. Harvick’s path to victory was much different in Arizona than the one he had traveled the previous two weeks in which he led two-thirds of the laps run. On Sunday, he led twice for just thirty-eight laps. But Harvick had his Number-4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in front over the final twenty-two circuits to notch his fortieth Cup Series win, nine of which have come at I-S-M-R, including seven of the last twelve dating back to the 2012 season. Sunday’s success came on the heels of a major penalty last week for rule violations in Las Vegas that cost Harvick twenty points and knocked him down from first place to third in the regular-season standings.

With Sunday’s win, Harvick returns to the top spot and will carry a twelve-point lead over Kyle Busch into next weekend’s race in Fontana, California. Not only is Busch second in the point standings. He ran second to Harvick in yesterday’s race, falling seventy-seven one-hundredths of a second short at the finish after winning the opening stage and leading a race-high 128 laps. It was Busch’s second straight runner-up showing. Chase Elliott finished third with Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Junior completing the top five.

Kurt Busch won Stage-2 and finished tenth overall. In fact, all four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers were among the top ten: Harvick, Busch, Clint Bowyer (sixth) and Aric Almirola (seventh).

Sunday’s race included fifteen lead changes among nine drivers. There were six cautions for 36 laps.

NASCAR CUP SERIES

Top 10 Finishers in the TicketGuardian 500

DRIVER STARTING POSITION LAPS LED

1. Kevin Harvick (10) 38

2. Kyle Busch (7) 128

3. Chase Elliott (3) —

4. Denny Hamlin (6) 33

5. Martin Truex Jr. (Pole) 3

6. Clint Bowyer (19) —

7. Aric Almirola (22) —

8. Daniel Suarez (15) —

9. Erik Jones (9) —

10. Kurt Busch (23) 6

RACE NOTES …

With his victory on Sunday in Phoenix, Kevin Harvick becomes the first driver with three straight Cup Series wins since Joey Logano’s “trifecta” during the 2015 playoffs. Dating back to last season, Harvick has won four of the last seven races and posted top-five finishes in two of the three that he didn’t win … Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing dominated Sunday’s top ten, each putting all four of its drivers in. J-G-R finishers were Kyle Busch (second), Denny Hamlin (fourth), Daniel Suarez (eighth) and Erik Jones (ninth) … William Byron was the highest-finishing rookie, in twelfth place.

NASCAR CUP SERIES Unofficial Point Standings After 4 Races

DRIVER POINTS BEHIND LEADER

1. Kevin Harvick 168 —-

2. Kyle Busch 156 -12

Martin Truex Jr. 156 -12

4. Joey Logano 152 -16

Ryan Blaney 152 -16

6. Denny Hamlin 137 -31

7. Brad Keselowski 134 -34

8. Kyle Larson 131 -37

9. Clint Bowyer 125 -43

10. Aric Almirola 123 -45

TRACK FACTS …

After Kevin Harvick was penalized last week, Joey Logano entered this weekend as the Monster Energy Series points leader. But his nineteenth-place finish on Sunday sent Logano sliding to fourth place – sixteen points behind Harvick, who’s back in the top spot following his third straight victory … All but two of the thirty-seven starters were running at the finish on Sunday. Corey Lajoie retired with engine failure just twenty-three laps in and Paul Menard was sidelined by an accident early in the final stage.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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