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article imageNASCAR: Harvick wins bumper-car battle to win in Phoenix

By John Duarte     Mar 14, 2016 in Sports
Avondale - Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards bang into each other down the front stretch, as they headed for the finish line, with Harvick nosing out his competitor in the end to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 on Sunday.
Harvick said he knew he would have to protect his lead on the final lap of the Good Sam 500. He was in front of Edwards as they came out of the final turn at Phoenix International Raceway, but Edwards pulled along side and bumped Harvick up the track. The two cars sped toward the finish line side-by-side, all but inseparable. Harvick's final bump was all he needed to edge past Edwards and win the Good Sam 500 by 0.010 of a second, the closest finish ever at the Phoenix race track.
“I knew I was going to have to be on defense because he (Edwards) beat me through the centre of (Turns) 3 and 4 all day,” the winner said, recalling the final moments of the race. “I was fully expecting everything that I got. I was a couple of feet behind him and I was able to scrub against his door a little bit to slow him down. And, by the time he'd realized that he was going to be behind, we had carried the momentum by win and we were at the start-finish line.”
Two of the four Sprint Cup Series races this season have ended nearly identically. The Daytona 500 was decided by four inches, and so was the Good Sam 500. One could hardly wipe the smile off Harvick's face, who said this is what NASCAR racing is about.
“Fun finish,” said Harvick. “That's exactly what we all looking for, for finishes and strategy as you look at the low downforce and the soft tires.”
Edwards said he was happy with the race and his second-pace finish, though “I really wish it would have worked out a little bit differently.” Edwards described how the “drag race” to the finish was exciting for the drivers and the fans in the stands.
“It was kind of fun coming to the line because I thought, man, I got him, and then he doored me real hard... I tried to door him and slow him down, but it just didn't work,” Edwards said. “I ran into him about as hard as I thought I could without wrecking him.”
Harvick said “I would done the exactly same thing.” He added that is what he told Edwards after the race.
“That is what NASCAR racing is all about,” said Harvick. “You're coming to the checkered flag and he wants to win for his team and I want to win for my team, and there's a lot on the line. It's definitely the way that things should have been done.”
Denny Hamlin finished third in the race.
Harvick started the Good Sam 500 halfway down in the field, in the 18th spot, but worked his way to the front. He took over the lead at a restart on Lap 169 and hardly ever looked back, staying out in front for a race high 139 laps. It looked like there was going to be no contest as to the winner of the Good Sam 500 until a late caution forced overtime. Whereas, in previous years, the race would have a green-white-checker finish, NASCAR implemented a new overtime rule to provide more excitement for the fans.
When there is a caution period during the final lap of the race, NASCAR now sends the event into overtime. Each track has an overtime line on the backstretch. A the green flag is waved to restart the race once it has gone beyond its scheduled distance and the leading car crosses the overtime line, the race ends once the leader crosses the finish line. If a caution flag comes out before the leader crosses the overtime line, subsequent attempts will be made until a clean restart is achieved.
This week's victory vaults Harvick into the lead, up from third place. The 2014 champion is tied with 2015 champion, Kyle Busch, in the driver standings. Six-time Sprint Cup Series titlist Jimmie Johnson drops to third after four races.
Next on the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400, on March 20 at Auto Club Speedway, in California.
More about Nascar, Sprint cup series, phoenix international raceway, kevin harvick, Carl edwards
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