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Harvick captures fight- and wreck-filled Phoenix race

The SportsXchange

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Kyle Busch led the most laps, Brad Keselowski took the championship points lead from Jimmie Johnson, and a fight broke out between the crews of Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon.

Amid all of that, Kevin Harvick quietly went about the business of winning his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race in over a year when he took the checkered flag Sunday in the Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Cars were wrecking and sliding sideways as they crossed the finish line under the checkered flag. Driving or sliding across the line to come in second through fifth were Denny Hamlin, Busch, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman.

Busch dominated much of the race, but he gave up the lead to Harvick with eight laps remaining. Later, Gordon intentionally wrecked Bowyer, bringing out the red flag and adding additional laps to the race for a green-white-checkered finish.

Harvick's fuel was able to get him through the overtime and to the win, and he wasn't the only victor for the day. Keselowski headed into Phoenix seven points behind leader Johnson. With a sixth-place finish, though, Keselowski retook the points lead and built up a cushion of 20 points over Johnson, who finished the race 32nd.

Johnson's race went south with a tire issue that sent him hard into the wall with 77 laps to go. After spending a significant amount of time in the garage for repairs, Johnson drove his No. 48 back onto the race track to be around at the finish in an attempt to minimize the points damage.

Johnson drove into the garage while Keselowski led the race. Keselowski lost the advantage, though, on pit road during the yellow flag Johnson caused when he hit the wall. Keselowski was unable to get back to the front, but he made it up to the third spot and battled Hamlin for second.

Keselowski wasn't able to get past Hamlin, and he gave up track position when the yellow flag waved again with 40 laps to go. While most of the frontrunners stayed out, Keselowski pitted for tires and restarted in the eighth spot. He was unable to make up much ground the rest of the way.

Harvick moved into the second spot to challenge Busch on a restart that followed a caution with 31 laps to go. Harvick was unable to get past the leader, but he kept Busch in his sights. He was finally able to take the lead on a restart that followed a caution with 11 laps remaining.

Harvick remained up front the rest of the way, and he and his team thought he had taken the white flag when Gordon and Bowyer wrecked in the late going. According to NASCAR officials, though, Harvick had yet to take the white flag, so the race was red-flagged and additional laps were added to make sure the race ended under green.

The extra distance caused Harvick and his crew to doubt the amount of fuel they had in the car, and several other teams has the same concerns. All were able to get to the checkered flag on fuel, but a late-race multi-car wreck involving Keselowski, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Newman and Paul Menard sent several drivers over the finish line sideway.

When the dust settled, Greg Biffle finished seventh, Kurt Busch eighth, Menard ninth and Martin 10th.
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