Kevin Harvick earned his first victory with Stewart-Haas Racing on Sunday in The Profit on CNBC 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took second place followed by Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Jeff Gordon in third, fourth and fifth places respectively. Starting the race in 13th position, Harvick moved his #4 Chevrolet into 5th position for a time before moving into second place just before the caution flag was given on lap 35. After taking the lead, it became evident that the victory would be Harvick’s and the other drivers were competing for 2nd place.
Harvick dominated both practice sessions on Saturday and was considered to be the favorite for Sunday’s race – and he didn’t disappoint. This was Harvick’s fifth win at Phoenix International Raceway, and his 24th in 468 career starts. Having moved to Stewart-Haas after 13 seasons with Richard Childress Racing, Harvick noted after the race that his victory “solidifies so many things and so many decisions”. He went on to say that the Stewart-Haas crew had put so much work, time and effort into the car, giving it his stamp of approval with an enthusiastic “What a race car”.
Kyle Busch dominated the NASCAR Nationwide Blue Jeans Go Green 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, leading for 155 laps in a race that was cut short by 32 laps due to persistent rain. Commenting that he would have loved to have gone back out on the track to complete the race, Busch commended crew chief Adam Stevens and the rest of the crew for the work they do and the prime condition the #54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Kevin Harvick took second place, followed by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth.
Meanwhile, NASCAR is reportedly still mulling over the issue of whether or not to limit participation by Sprint Cup Series drivers in the Nationwide and Truck Series. With the second race of the season over, it appears that no decision has been taken as yet. Some fans are of the opinion that Sprint Cup drivers should leave the so-called “developmental series” to drivers who are developing their skills. Kyle Busch is a case in point. As the owner of his own truck team, he competes in Nationwide and Truck series, and reportedly says he will continue to do so until the rules are changed.
Following the ARCA race Saturday in which Chase Elliott and Dylan Kwasniewski were given the opportunity to prove themselves, the two 18-year-old drivers have been approved by NASCAR to compete in speedway racing. Kwasniewski started in pole position at Daytona International Speedway and finished the race in fourteenth position, while Elliott crossed the finish line in ninth place. Grant Enfinger took the checkered flag, being his first victory at Daytona, and the third of his career. Frank Kimmel and Clay Campbell took second and third places respectively.
Born on November 28, 1995, Chase Elliott is the son of 1988 Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott. He has been a development driver for Hendrick Motorsports and will reportedly be driving the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In 2010, Elliott 12 of the 40 races he competed in, and finished in the top ten no less than 38 times. He was selected as the Georgia Asphalt Pro Late Model Series Rookie of the Year in 2010, finishing the season with a victory at the Winchester 400.
In February 2011, Elliott entered into a driver development contract with Hendrick Motorsports. Highlights in 2011 included finishing ninth in series points in the K&N Pro Series East and competing in the CRA where he won the National Super Late Model Championship. Elliott became the Snowball Derby’s youngest winner just after his sixteenth birthday in 2011.
In 2012 Elliott returned to the K&N Pro Series East claiming his first career victory at Iowa Speedway in May of that year and finished fourth in series points. Driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Elliott became the youngest winner at Pocono Raceway in ARCA history in June 2013. Also in 2013, he became the youngest driver to earn pole-position in the NASCAR Truck Series, and at the age of 17 years, 9 months and 4 days, became the youngest winner in Truck Series history. With his victory at the All American 400 in November 2013, Elliot became the first driver to win the largest four short-track races, being the Snowball Derby, the Winchester 400, the World Crown 300 and the All American 400.
With the jury still out on the role Elliott played in the multiple car crash during the ARCA race, it is unclear as to whether he will compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year. The NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Daytona International Speedway on February 22 with the DRIVE4COPD 300.