AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kevin Harvick was out to prove a point on Sunday at ISM Raceway.
Less than a week after several penalties put a shadow over Harvick’s second-straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Harvick stormed to his third-straight series victory during the TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway.
“I’ve been mad as all get out because this team does a great job, this organization does a great job and we’ve got fast race cars and to take that away from those guys just really (ticked) me off last week,” Harvick said after climbing from his car in victory lane.
Harvick was referencing the penalties handed down by NASCAR last Wednesday following post-race inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center. The team was penalized for two infractions, but the one that caught the most attention was a penalty for a broken brace in the rear window, which led to heavy social media speculation that his team was doing it purposefully to find an aerodynamic advantage.
The penalties, which also included a penalty for the rocker panel extensions not being the proper material, led to the loss of seven playoff points, the suspension of his car chief Robert Smith and a $50,000 fine for crew chief Rodney Childers.
The penalty left Harvick and his team fumming and they turned that anger and frustration into another trip to victory lane Sunday afternoon.
“Everybody was just determined this week and we wanted to stomp them. We didn’t stomp them, but we won and that’s really all that matters,” said Harvick, who climbed from his car on the frontstretch Sunday at ISM Raceway and slapped and pointed at the back window to further drive the point home.
Unlike his victories the last two weeks at Las Vegas and Atlanta Motor Speedway, Harvick had to work much harder on Sunday afternoon before he got to celebrate in victory lane.
The best car on Sunday arguably belonged to Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 128 laps and won the opening stage of the race. He was the race leader for the start of the final stage, but before long Harvick began to make his presence known.
Harvick, who started the final stage in second, hounded Busch and got the race lead from him with 134 to go. Shortly thereafter the caution flag waved when a tire blew out on Paul Menard’s Ford, sending him into the wall at the exit of turn two.