Sunday, May 20, 2018
Sports

Kevin Harvick takes Sprint Cup victory at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Kevin Harvick had a nice send-off with Richard Childress Racing, winning his penultimate race with the team in November at Phoenix International Raceway.

Back at Phoenix four months later, he stamped his arrival at Stewart-Haas Racing by winning the second race with his new team — on the weekend he celebrated his 13th wedding anniversary, too.

Yeah, Harvick kind of likes the desert.

Disappointed at the Daytona 500 after a last-lap crash, Harvick bounced back quickly by dominating Sunday's The Profit on CNBC 500 to win consecutive races at PIR with different teams.

"Man, this is awesome," Harvick said.

Harvick won the fall race after Carl Edwards ran out of fuel at the white flag.

He needed no help Sunday.

The 14th-year Sprint Cup veteran had the fastest car in practice and kept it rolling in the race, charging to the front after starting 13th and pretty much staying there. He led 224 of 312 laps on the odd-shaped mile oval and pulled away on several late restarts for his fifth series victory at PIR, passing Jimmie Johnson for the most at a track where NASCAR has raced since 1988.

Not bad for someone still trying to feel his way around with a new team and new crew chief Rodney Childers.

"It took long enough," SHR co-owner Gene Haas joked. "… I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it's a great team, there's a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don't know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization."

Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, pole-sitter Brad Keselowski, minus his crew chief, was third with Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano fourth and Jeff Gordon fifth.

Harvick had a solid finish in his sights at Daytona last week before a last-lap crash dropped him to 13th.

At Phoenix, Harvick just missed the final stage of NASCAR's new knockout qualifying format, nipped by 0.001 seconds, but had the fastest car in Saturday morning's final practice.

He had no trouble making his way through the field after the green flag dropped in the race, passing Keselowski on the apron, then Logano for the lead on Lap 74. Harvick kept the lead coming out of green-flag pit stops with just under 200 laps remaining and again with about 70 laps left.

A series of cautions came out late and Harvick easily pulled away on each restart to earn a quick win with SHR, a nice capper to his anniversary weekend with wife DeLana.

"Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions," said Harvick, who spent his first 13 seasons with Childress. "It's been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in. But what a racecar."

Earnhardt had a whirlwind week after his second Daytona 500 victory, needing his girlfriend to get him extra clothes while he went on a media tour. He had a solid followup, putting the distractions aside to qualify fifth.

Earnhardt worked his way up in the opening third of the race, passing Logano and Keselowski to pull up behind Harvick. He dropped back a couple of times and fought back to get Harvick within his sights again, but didn't have enough to track him down.

"I've got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal," Earnhardt said. "To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us."

The new knockout qualifying system made its Sprint Cup debut at Phoenix and Keselowski came out on top, edging Logano for his fourth career pole.

Not long after, Keselowski found out he would be without his crew chief for the race. Paul Wolfe went back to North Carolina for the birth of his first child.

With team engineer Brian Wilson and its Nationwide series competition director Greg Erwin at the helm, Keselowski ran near the front all day, but, like everyone else, didn't have the speed to keep up with Harvick.

"They beat everybody before they came to the track today," Keselowski said. "It's a great combination. They were prepared for the weekend.

"To me, Rodney Childers is like a rubber-stamp, carbon-copy of Paul Wolfe. He's a great crew chief and it was just a matter of time before he found a combination that he excelled with."

Comments
For starters: Rays at Angels, with Romo again as “the opener”

For starters: Rays at Angels, with Romo again as “the opener”

The Rays were so pleased with how their Saturday night experiment went with veteran reliever RHP Sergio Romo pitching the first inning – as "the opener" – before giving way to LHP Ryan Yarbrough that they are going to do it again today.Th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Softball: Scouting the Academy at the Lakes vs. Lake Worth Christian semifinal

Softball: Scouting the Academy at the Lakes vs. Lake Worth Christian semifinal

Academy at the Lakes (24-4) vs. Lake Worth Christian (10-3)Where: 11:50 a.m. Monday at Historic Dodgertown, Vero BeachHow they got thereAcademy at the Lakes defeated Seacrest Country Day 11-1, defeated Canterbury 5-1Lake Worth Christian defeated...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Playing .500 ball is obviously no goal, and the Rays certainly know that.But given where they came from, that terrible 1-8 start that oozed into 3-12 and 4-13, climbing back to the respectability of .500 would be an accomplish...
Published: 05/20/18
Lightning defeats Capitals, can clinch Stanley Cup berth in Game 6

Lightning defeats Capitals, can clinch Stanley Cup berth in Game 6

Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette (13) celebrates his first period goal after beating Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) 29 seconds after the start in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Saturday...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The first part of the Rays' new and unusual pitching plan worked so well Saturday, as game "opener" RHP Sergio Romo struck out the first three Angels hitters, that the Rays will do it again on Sunday.That's right. Romo will st...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

TAMPA — A two-goal lead was suddenly only one, and the Washington Capitals, having pulled their goalie, had a furious 96-second siege.Andrei Vasilevskiy made the last three of his 28 saves to preserve the Lightning's 3-2 victory Saturday in Gam...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

TAMPA — Dan Girardi knew where the puck was heading. It was heading to Alex Ovechkin for a one-timer on net, so Girardi did the only thing he could do. He blocked it.With his rump."It hit me right in the cheek," said Girardi, the Lightning defe...
Published: 05/19/18
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Faster than Justify down the stretch at the Preakness, quicker than Harry and Meghan walked down the aisle at Windsor Castle, the Lightning jumped on Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. No runaway gallop. No funny hats. Just ho...
Published: 05/19/18
Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

TAMPA — They're called grinders. Pluggers. Checkers.They're lunch-pail guys. Like 9-to-5ers. They get up every day and go to work. They punch in and punch out for no glory or credit. But the business would fall apart without them.They're the fo...
Published: 05/19/18
Justify wins foggy Preakness, keeps Triple Crown bid alive

Justify wins foggy Preakness, keeps Triple Crown bid alive

BALTIMORE — Justify rounded the final turn and hit the top of the stretch winded but with the lead. The roar from the crowd was delayed, hushed by the thick fog that enveloped the track. When Justify emerged from the haze in view of the grandstand, t...
Published: 05/19/18