Kevin Harvick Came to ISM Raceway Mad and Left Happy
Did hate fuel and motivate Kevin Harvick to win his third consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race this season?
Just call Sunday's event at ISM Raceway "The Harvick Show." In fact, call it “The Happy Harvick Show,” to be exact. Kevin Harvick rolled into Phoenix, Arizona for NASCAR’s second stop on their West Coast swing, um, swinging.
Heading into the race, Harvick let it be known that he was not happy. After NASCAR levied penalties against him for what he believed was spurred on by social media pressure, he did what anyone in his position would do—he went on a tear. In his own words, Harvick said, “Everybody just came here mad with a chip on their shoulder wanting to do exactly what we did here today.” Instead of folding under the pressure, Harvick won his third consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race and his ninth at ISM Raceway. Like any true champion, he let his actions speak a whole lot louder than any words he could say.
The Stewart-Haas Racing team backed up any sentiments that Harvick may have had by going out and, for the first time in the team’s history, placing all four cars in the top-10. As Harvick tied Mark Martin for 40 career wins, the entire team got in on the action and made history. Led by Harvick, Clint Bowyer was next in line with a sixth place finish followed by Aric Almirola who placed seventh and Kurt Busch who nabbed the final spot in the top-10.
In contrast, all four Hendrick Motorsports teammates managed to finish in the top-20. Chase Elliott drove his No. 9 Chevrolet to a third-place finish, the first top-5 for Hendrick Motorsports since the start of the 2018 season. Rookie driver William Byron then finished twelfth while Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 car, finished thirteenth. Jimmie Johnson managed a fourteenth place finish, but for any fan of Johnson, it was just great to see him finish his second race in a row after a run of bad luck.
Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Larson mixed it up with Kevin Harvick all day, taking turns on the lead lap. Ryan Newman also jumped into the mix leading 23 laps along with William Byron in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 who got his first lead in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race with 15 laps. It was a battle on the track for Harvick, but that didn’t stop him from having fun and proving his haters wrong. “When you got Kyle Busch sticking his finger out the window with his thumb up, you know, talking about them having fun and sending messages on the radio, you know everybody's having fun and I could tell that myself and Kyle [Busch] and Denny [Hamlin] and the No. 9 [Chase Elliott] it seems like those were gonna to be the guys it came down to…,” said Harvick. He was right. Fans were just as entertained watching the race.
The Ticket Guardian 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Race Results:
(Position Finished, Driver, Manufacturer, Laps Completed)
1. Kevin Harvick, Ford, 312
2. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 312
3. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 312
4. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 312
5. Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 312
6. Clint Bowyer, Ford, 312
7. Aric Almirola, Ford, 312
8. Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 312
9. Erik Jones, Toyota, 312
10. Kurt Busch, Ford, 312
11. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 312
12. William Byron, Chevrolet, 312
13. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 312
14. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 312
15. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 312
16. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 311
17. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 311
18. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 311
19. Joey Logano, Ford, 311
20. Trevor Bayne, Ford, 311
21. AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 311
22. David Ragan, Ford, 311
23. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 311
24. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 311
25. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 311
26. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 310
27. Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 310
28. Darrell Wallace, Jr., Chevrolet, 309
29. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 309
30. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 309
31. D.J. Kennington, Toyota, 309
32. Michael McDowell, Ford, 308
33. Timmy Hill, Chevrolet, 306
34. Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 304
35. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 292
36. Paul Menard, Ford, 189, DNF, crash
37. Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 23, DNF, engine
Fifteen cars finished the Ticket Guardian 500 race at ISM Raceway on the lead lap. Thirty-seven cars lined up for the start of the race and all but two cars finished. Wood Brothers Racing driver Paul Menard wrecked his No. 21 Menards/Dutch Boy car in a hard hit when he slammed into the wall on lap 190, and finally, Corey LaJoie’s day ended early for the second time in as many Cup races of the season, completing 23 laps before his engine expired and brought out the first caution of the race.
NASCAR will continue its West Coast stint with the next stop on the schedule being the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The weekend will kick-off on Thursday, March 15 with a free Fanfest and the NASCAR Hauler Parade at the track. The Auto Club 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race (200 laps, 400 miles) will start Sunday, March 18 at 3:30 p.m. EST. As we prepare for the final race on the NASCAR Goes West tour, the one question we all want to know is, “Can ‘Happy Harvick’ make it to four Monster Energy Cup race wins in a row?” Now, wouldn’t that be something?