He led practice yesterday and took the lead on lap 74, never looking back as Kevin Harvick was “freaky fast” on his way to winning The Profit on CNBC 500, leading over 200 laps in the 500 km race.
“This solidifies so many things and so many decisions,” Harvick said in victory lane. “I got to thank all these guys at Stewart-Haas Racing. it’s been so much work; I’ve seen the time and effort these guys have put in but they put together one heck of a racecar.”
Harvick had to hold off last week’s Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano in a late race restart with nine laps to go after a caution came out for his teammate Kurt Busch’s motor blowing up.
“I knew the 22 (Logano) had been timing those restarts there and took a shot down low, but I timed it right to hold him off,” Harvick commented. “Kudos to Hendrick engines and the information that we’re sharing across the board as it helps. It was fun racing Jr there at the end.”
Earnhardt Jr. backed up last week’s win to finish second as he ran solidly inside the top five all day.
“We got running side-by-side for second and let Kevin get out there too far,” Earnhardt said. “I thought we could run him own by he just got far away. We worked on our car – got some help from our teammtes – and ended up where we thought we should finish, but Kevin was stellar today.”
Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Logano finished third and fourth after sweeping the front row in qualifying.
“I tried really hard. With the new points structure, the wins mean so much,” Logano said. “I knew my restarts were good and I thought the last restart id go for it. I shoved my ford into the hole there and that’s how I probably lost third there. After the off-season and you work so hard and you start 1st and 2nd and then finish 3rd and 4th, it shows how strong we are.
“On the back of his car, it says freaky fast and they weren’t lying as he was freaky fast.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson finished fifth and sixth after their top five finishes last weekend at Daytona.
“We were a decent car all day long,” Johnson said. “We just need a little more time with this package to dial it in. Strategy was on our side and we were certainly making up some time there. Solid day. We want more for sure but we’ll take it.”
Ryan Newman finished seventh, followed by Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray. Kasey Kahne got back to 11th after struggling early, followed by Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears and Aric Almirola.
Michael Waltrip Racing driver Brian Vickers wouldn’t have luck go his way as he got into the wall under caution at lap 162 due to a flat tire. Danica Patrick also didn’t have a good day as she’d get damage in an incident with Justin Allgaier and Travis Kvapil, before going for another spin later due to a flat tire. She would confront Allgaier after the race to discuss his displeasure.
Rookies Alex Bowman and Parker Kligerman both suffered DNFs as their engines are expired, along with Kurt Busch’s.
Earnhardt Jr. holds a six point lead over Keselowski heading to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.