Following a pair of second place finishes in the first two races of the season, Kevin Harvick would dominate the Kobalt 400, leading 142 of 267 laps en route to his 29th career victory. It marks his first victory of the season, and his sixth straight top-two finish dating back to last year.
“It’s so cool to win here at Las Vegas and starting this west coast swing off this way is awesome,” Harvick commented. “Pretty special to win here. Got to thank everybody that works on this car and what makes it go around.”
Harvick now leads the points standings, nine points ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., and joins Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson as drivers locked in the chase.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second, continuing his strong start to the season, and says the success is something he can’t put into words.
“Obviously Proud of Sherry and what she’s been through and everything that she’s taught me to be a better person,” he commented, referring his girlfriend’s fight to beat ovarian cancer. “Just proud of the guys in the shop. They’re making good decisions and we just got to find a little bit of speed and we’ll be right there. But man, Harvick was fast. I got ahead of him on a restart, but just didn’t have anything for him.”
Ryan Newman finished third after running inside the top-10 all day.
“This is a great team effort,” Newman said. “Got to thank Luke and all these guys. Just come up short and that is no fun. Don’t get me wrong – it was an improvement over last year, improvement as we’re getting better. I happy that we’re improving, but not happy about not winning.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. would finish fourth after taking a gamble and taking two tires late versus the four that his competitors took. It marks Earnhardt’s third straight top-four finish.
“We’re took only lefts up on it – like the gamble, we were being aggressive,” he commented. “We weren’t just going to go up there and pass him. Second, fifth, fourth – it don’t matter as long you don’t win. Last year, we almost won the race by luck. This year, we were actually racing up there.”
Denny Hamlin finished fifth, followed by A.J. Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano.
After leading both practices yesterday, Jimmie Johnson would finish 41st after blowing a pair of tires and hitting the wall, twice.
“The first one – they said the bead blew on it,” Johnson said. “We don’t have high brake temps here, so I don’t know what could’ve caused that. The second one – it went soft so maybe due to damage from the first one. It’s unfortunate as I was looking to have a good Kobalt Chevrolet in the Kobalt 400.”
The first incident collected teammate Jeff Gordon in the process as Jeb Burton would slow, with Gordon making contact with Burton. Burton would brush the outside wall while Gordon suffered significant front end damage, finishing 18th.
“I guess Jimmie blew a right front tire and I was right behind Jeb getting ready to make on him and all of the sudden he started checking up and I didn’t realize and ran into the back of him,” Gordon shared. “Ruined the front end of our car, just couldn’t go fast down the straightaway, really tired. We were coming. Great effort, just can’t believe the way these days are going.”
Carl Edwards also didn’t have the day he wanted as he would push up off of turn four, causing Kasey Kahne to hit the outside wall. Then going into turn one, Kahne would doorslam Edwards, causing Edwards to go for a spin. Along the lines with the contact, Edwards suffered a broken oil cooler.
“I was just racing as hard as I can and it’s completely my fault,” Edwards expressed. “I just got sucked up into him off of turn four, and got into him, tearing up the fender before going down into one and spinning. My fault. I’m sorry about that. I feel bad about that for him.”