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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 11, 2018 7:20 pm

Kevin Harvick races to 3rd straight NASCAR win

JOHN NICHOLSON | Associated Press

 

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kevin Harvick raced to his third straight NASCAR Cup Series victory, holding off Kyle Busch for his record-extending ninth win at ISM Raceway.

Coming off victories in Atlanta and Las Vegas, Harvick got in front of Busch on the last series of pit stops on the mile oval. Busch's team had trouble with the right rear tire on his stop with 53 laps left, allowing Harvick — who pitted three laps earlier — to slip ahead en route to his 40th Cup victory.

Harvick took the lead with 22 laps left when Ryan Newman finally made his last stop on the sunny afternoon after morning rain.

Harvick is the first driver to win three straight Cup races since Joey Logano in 2015. After technical violations marred his victory last week in Las Vegas, Harvick was the fastest in practice Saturday and steadily worked his way to the front after starting 10th.

The 2014 series champion has 14 NASCAR national-series victories at the track, also winning an Xfinity event and four Truck races. In 31 Cup starts in Phoenix, the California driver was 15 top-five finishes.

Busch was 0.774 seconds back. Chase Elliott was third, followed by Denny Hamlin, pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Eric Jones and Kurt Busch.