Monday, September 20, 2021

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Kevin Harvick closes in on victory in Phoenix as Johnson nears championship

“Miracles happen every day bro.”

‘The Closer’ Kevin Harvick would close in on the victory at Phoenix International Raceway after Carl Edwards ran out of gas while leading with two laps to go.

“I really wasn’t expecting that but I just got to thank all these guys on this Chevrolet,” Harvick commented. “All the people that help us and the race fans and Sprint for putting us on this track. We had a really fast car all day and were able to make ground through traffic. We were on the opposite side of the stragedy and it worked out. Got to thank Richard and RCR for all the support throughout the years. 1 more to go.”

It marks the 23rd victory for the driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet and fourth victory of 2013 as he closes out his last season with Richard Childress Racing before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. It also marks the 200th victory for RCR across the top three NASCAR divisions.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne finished second for 14th top 10 of the season while teammate Jimmie Johnson finished third.

Johnson had some close calls throughout the day, including a first lap slide after racing three-wide with Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. He’d have a second big save at lap 162 after contact with Carl Edwards, barely keeping the car off of the wall.

“I knew I had a great racecar and that makes life a lot easier,” Johnson commented. “I really had to fall back on my dirt driving days and those days in the desert. I really thought I was going to get in the wall. The 20 was struggling all day. We came down pit there and I thought that he would be way up front but he wasn’t so I knew then that we were okay. I knew I had a good car. I knew I could get through traffic and I knew I could gain points.”

Johnson now heads to the final race of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a 28 point lead over Matt Kenseth. If Johnson finishes 23rd or better at Homestead, he will clinch the championship no matter what Kenseth does.

Kenseth finished 23rd at Phoenix after struggling with an ill-handling car all day.

“I’m disappointed with the way our season has gone and wished we could’ve gone to Homestead with it based on performance,” Kenseth commented. “On the other hand, I can’t thank these guys enough. I wouldn’t want to be driving any other car. These guys are really special. We’ve had a great year together. We’ll go down to Homestead and try to win one more.”

Johnson’s other teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. came back to finish fourth after going down a lap early due to an unscheduled pit stop at lap 64 for a loose wheel. Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.

Juan Pablo Montoya finished sixth followed by Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.

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