Harvick Wins, Johnson Closes On No. 6

Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning Sunday's AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix Int'l Raceway. (NASCAR Photo)
Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning Sunday's AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix Int'l Raceway. (NASCAR Photo)
Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix Int’l Raceway. (NASCAR Photo)

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Carl Edwards ran out of gas coming to the white flag during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix Int’l Raceway, allowing Kevin Harvick to take command and score his fourth victory of the 2013 season.

Harvick led the most laps during Sunday’s 312-lap event, but the second half of the race saw several teams try different strategies in the hopes of garnering track position. Harvick was the race leader in the midst of green flag pit stops when he unexpectedly ran out of fuel on lap 268, dropping him from the lead to a lap down.

The pit cycle continued and once everyone pitted Edwards emerged with the lead, followed by Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and a determined Harvick. Edwards looked like he had the victory wrapped up until a caution flag waved on lap 283 for debris in turn three.

Edwards got away from the field during the restart while Harvick made quick work of both Johnson and Kahne. As the laps clicked off it didn’t look like Harvick was going to catch Edwards, but on lap 311 Edwards slowed dramatically entering turn one.

It didn’t take Harvick long to pounce on Edwards, flashing by him coming out of turn four as the white flag waved to take the lead. As Edwards tried to limp his Ford to the finish, Harvick flashed under the checkered flag for the fourth time in his career at PIR as Kahne chased him home in second.

“I really wasn’t expecting that,” Harvick admitted in victory lane. “We had a really, really fast car all day. We were able to make up ground through traffic. We were on the opposite side of the strategy that worked out. You just never know how the cautions will work out.”

Edwards said if he had known he was that close on fuel he would have tried to save more during the caution period on lap 283.

“I didn’t know it was that close,” said Edwards, who won at PIR in the spring. “I tried to save (fuel) a couple of laps, but the 29 was catching me. I don’t know if could have saved two laps in hindsight but man, we did not think we were going to run out of fuel.”

While Harvick was celebrating in victory lane, third-place finisher Johnson exited his car knowing his road to his sixth Sprint Cup championship had gotten considerably easier.