Kevin Harvick survived a full-contact side-by-side duel with Carl Edwards on the final lap Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, claiming his first victory of the season in a photo finish. Harvick led the field on the day’s final restart and pulled away before a fast-closing Edwards reeled him in and tapped the rear bumper of Harvick’s Number-4 Chevrolet entering Turn-4 on the final lap. Edwards pulled alongside and leaned hard on Harvick as they exited the corner. Edwards and Harvick bumped again as they took the checkered flag with Harvick nosing ahead at the finish. The official margin of victory was a mere one one-hundredths of a second – identical to Denny Hamlin’s dramatic win over Martin Truex Junior in last month’s season-opening Daytona 500.
Harvick dominated the second half of Sunday’s race, leading all but eleven of the final 150 laps including the last seventy-nine trips around the one-mile desert oval. Hamlin finished third and pole sitter Kyle Busch was fourth after leading seventy-five laps. With Edwards’ runner-up showing, Joe Gibbs Racing grabbed three of the top four spots. Dale Earnhardt Junior completed the top five … In its third race, NASCAR’s new low-downforce rules package produced just seven lead changes among four drivers: Busch, Earnhardt, Edwards and Harvick.
Sunday’s race included five cautions for thirty laps … Kasey Kahne’s late-race accident in Turn-3 brought out the day’s final yellow flag which extended the race one lap past its scheduled distance.