How the race was won
Harvick Kevin Harvick simply was dominant, though Jimmie Johnson was in the ballpark on long runs. It actually was on a short run after a late caution that Johnson attacked Harvick, but the driver of the No. 29 Chevy managed to fight Johnson off and drive to a season sweep at Phoenix.
Story of the race
Johnson's charge through the field and toward a likely championship.
With Harvick leading the way, most of the Chasers holding serve. Not that it mattered much. It really now is Johnson's to lose.
Give 'em credit
Harvick and Johnson. They both put on a show; one by dominating and the other by slicing and dicing his way through the field.
The rest of the Chasers … for the most part. Harvick aside, Denny Hamlin also continues to shine. In all, nine Chase drivers finished in the top 15, though Matt Kenseth (13th) didn't want to be bringing up the rear of that pack. Dale Earnhardt Jr. surely wanted more, also, but not a terrible showing from the No. 8 guys. Meanwhile, nice call by Mark Martin, Pat Tryson and Co. to get track position.
David Gilliland. Robert Yates Racing is in limbo, but Gilliland's solid showings lately should be giving Yates some hope – assuming he does keep the No. 38 team.
What were they thinking?
Yeah, Tony Stewart might have been mostly responsible for wrecking Jamie McMurray, but it wasn't nearly as blatant as some drivers made it out to be. Rather, it was closer to being (but not quite) just one of them racin' deals.
Robby Gordon sure does like blocking and racing hard, huh?
Better luck next time
McMurray McMurray. He hasn't had a top-10 since Watkins Glen. Looked like that streak would end Sunday. Not quite.
Clint Bowyer also saw a top-10 vanish. After some strong runs over the summer, that team is stumbling badly.
By the way …
Bad luck aside, is there any realistic chance Johnson, Chad Knaus and Co. fail to show up with their best stuff next weekend?
Is Harvick becoming more outspoken by the minute? Seems so. He does maintain that playful yet biting sense of humor all the while.
Edwards and Jeff Gordon tangled a few times without all-out wrecking. And they chatted about it following the race. Maybe they edged across the line of what is considered racing too hard, but they weren't trying to take each other out and they weren't throwing punches (or helmets, gloves, etc.) afterward. Seems about right.
Isn't it amazing that Sam Hornish Jr., arguably one of the best open wheel oval racers on the planet, struggled so much in a stock car on a track he was very familiar with? If he makes the jump, Hornish will do just fine. But it does show the jump isn't all that easy to make.
Grading the race
This one started with a terrific race at the front but settled in to single-file green flag racing very quickly. It seemed, somehow, to move along rather quickly while also dragging on at times, perhaps adding credence to Earnhardt Jr.'s assertion from a day earlier that the middle part of a race can be pointless. Of course, the middle stages were preferable to the run of cautions late in the day – though those cautions did set up a terrific finish, with a few different battles throughout the top 10. Overall, Harvick's dominance, Johnson's performance, Kenseth's efforts to hang on and the overall Chase drama gave Sunday's race some compelling storylines, even if the on-track action itself wasn't always quite as interesting. Maybe a C+ if it was the spring race here, but given the circumstances … Grade: B-
From the source
Kevin Harvick: "I think our team is good, and … it's just a matter of having it all put together and I think absolutely we can get better [for 2007 – especially] having the experience that we've had this year."
Jamie McMurray: "Needless to say I'll buy all my Irwin tools at Lowe's."