Actually everything went as expected for Kevin Harvick on Sunday.
That wasn’t the case so much early in the year last season, Harvick’s first with a start-up team at Stewart-Haas Racing.
A year and a Sprint Cup championship later, however, Harvick dominated from nearly start to finish - again - to win Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, his fourth consecutive win at the track and seventh overall.
Harvick led 224 of the 312 laps and except when some teams took two tires on pit stops instead of four, was hardly challenged for the win, his second of the season and 30th of his career.
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Jamie McMurray was second, Ryan Newman third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Kurt Busch was fifth.
Twice in the last 16 laps of the race Harvick’s charge to the win was slowed by cautions brought out by his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and then Danica Patrick. Each time after about a lap, Harvick moved out to a comfortable advantage.
Three who mattered
Kevin Harvick: Does Harvick own this place? In three of his last four wins at the track, he’s led more than 200 laps in the race.
Kurt Busch: Strong first weekend back for Busch, who was able to compete in his first race of the season with his No. 41 team after missing the first three races due to an indefinite suspension by NASCAR.
Tony Stewart.: Stewart has had a miserable start to the season and was running much better Sunday before he wrecked while racing Justin Allgaier for position on Lap 237.
▪ If Kurt Busch continues to perform week after week like he did this weekend in his first back in the car, he may indeed be a serious challenger to not just make the Chase, but also possibly win a second series championship.
▪ There have been lots of comparisons already between the combinations of Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers and Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus. Performances like this weekend and last won’t end those comparisons anytime soon.
Auto Club 400
Where: Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif.
When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday
Radio: Motor Racing Network.
Three tweets from Sunday’s race: