Carl Edwards led Joe Gibbs Racing with a 13th-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Campingworld.com 400k at Phoenix International Raceway. Meanwhile Matt Kenseth finished 16th while David Ragan and Denny Hamlin finished 21st and 23rd respectively.
Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota from the seventh position and was able hold that spot through the opening caution. He would battle a lack of grip on the next green flag run and fell back outside the top 10. Edwards was running 13th on lap 164. From there the 19 team would fight for a spot inside the top ten over the final 100 laps. Despite contact on pit road from the 48 car that caused damage to the right rear quarter panel on the STANLEY Camry, Edwards managed to run seventh with 78 laps to go. He would report that the car had moved to being tight in the center of the turns however and would fall once again outside the top ten. He would come down pit road for fresh tires on the final pit stop of the day and lined up 17th with 19 laps remaining. He would go on to finish 13th.
Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the fourth position and managed to run as high as second early on. He would battle tight conditions but a strong first pit stop would put him back in the top five and he was fourth at lap 145. The Dollar General Camry’s handling would continue to prove problematic especially in turns 3 and 4 of the one-mile track. A pit road speeding penalty would cost Kenseth additional track position and he would have to fight his way back into the top 20. The poor track position would prove costly to all teams on this warm afternoon in Phoenix although Kenseth would slowly climb back toward the top ten. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff would call for Kenseth to remain out on the track to gain valuable track position and he would restart seventh with about 20 laps to go. Unfortunately a quick caution would follow and the older tires would cost him additional spots as he took the checkered flag in 16th.
David Ragan qualified the No. 18 Snicker’s Xtreme Toyota in 13th and dropped back to just outside the top 15 through the early going. He would race near the top 15 for the next portion of the race while battling handling issues on his Snicker’s Xtreme Camry. Ragan ran 18th with 71 laps remaining. He would come down pit road for fresh tires on the final round of pit stops on the day leaving him to restart 25th with 19 laps to go. He would gain four stops over the final run to finish 21st.
Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota from the 25th position and was able to climb his way into the top 20 early in the race. He would pit under the afternoon’s first caution for fresh tires which put him back to 28th with the majority of cars remaining out. The FedEx crew would get a penalty on the next round of stops for going over the wall dropping him back to 30th for the next restart. Hamlin would slowly work his way back toward the top 20 and was running 21st on lap 146. The No. 11 Camry would continue its climb and was running 14th with just over 100 laps remaining. Hamlin would drop back once again on the longer green flag run and was running 20th with 30 laps to go. He would go on to finish 23rd.
Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing captured the win, followed by Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. There were 10 cautions for a total of 53 laps and eight lead changes among four different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will conclude its three-week west coast swing next Sunday in California. Live coverage from Fontana will be on Fox starting Sunday, March 22 at 3 PM ET (race starts at 3:30 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.