Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sports

Kevin Harvick tough to top at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Kevin Harvick's dominance amazes Carl Edwards. Jimmie Johnson shrugs while making Harvick the favorite in today's Good Sam 500.

When NASCAR comes to Phoenix International Raceway, all drivers chase Harvick, who has won a record seven Sprint Cup races on the 1-mile desert oval.

"I think really at this time in the sport for anyone to be that dominant at a track it really must have something special," Edwards said. "Yeah, I think the whole field is chasing those guys and chasing Kevin and that (No.) 4 car at this track."

There might be some hope for the field heading into today's 312-mile race. Kyle Busch, who will be on the pole, noticed Harvick's Chevrolet "was a little off" on Friday when he qualified 18th.

But there was Harvick on Saturday morning with the second-fastest car in practice behind Kurt Busch, his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate.

Harvick followed that by posting the fastest speed in the final practice session at midday, with track conditions most resembling those expected in this afternoon's race.

"It's hard to pick a favorite, but I guess if I'm forced to, the No. 4 car is the one that we'll all be paying close attention to," Johnson said.

It's true that when Harvick makes his 500th consecutive Cup start, he won't be the defending champion at Phoenix for the first time since November 2013. His four-race win streak was snapped last fall when Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the rain-shortened race.

Harvick still led the most laps and finished second.

"For me personally, this is a fun place to come just for the fact that I started racing here in the mid '90s," Harvick said. "You still see some of the same fans and people that followed your career up through the ranks."

The Bakersfield, Calif., native went from minor-league races at Phoenix to dominating this track after it was repaved in 2011.

Now Harvick, who has finished fourth, sixth and seventh in the first three races the season, is looking to lock up a spot in the season-ending Chase for the Championship with another Phoenix victory.

"We grew up on a lot of these flat style-type tracks, short tracks, up and down the West Coast," Harvick said. "For whatever reason, all the flat tracks have just kind of still fit my driving style throughout the years, whether it be here or Loudon."

Lock it up: Expect Johnson to be extra careful locking in his steering wheel after it came off in his hands in qualifying Friday, leading to a scary wreck.

"I was sitting there with no steering and no steering wheel and staring at the blue wall," Johnson said. "I was along for the ride at that point."

Johnson, who took the blame for the incident, was forced to a backup car and will start at the rear of the field.

Sprint Cup points

Through three of 36 races. The top 16 drivers, based on wins then points, will make the 10-race, season-ending Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts Back

Kyle Busch 116—

Jimmie Johnson* 110 6

Kevin Harvick 109 7

Joey Logano 104 12

Kurt Busch 102 14

Brad Keselowski* 98 18

Carl Edwards 96 20

Denny Hamlin* 93 23

Martin Truex 90 26

Austin Dillon 90 26

Ricky Stenhouse 79 37

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 78 38

Kasey Kahne 77 39

Ryan Blaney 73 43

Aric Almirola 72 44

Jamie McMurray 69 47

* Has a win

Today's race

Good Sam 500, 3:30 p.m., Phoenix International Speedway, Avondale, Ariz.

TV/radio: Ch. 13, 102.5-FM

Comments
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Why free agency hasn’t turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

Why free agency hasn’t turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

RHP Alex Cobb never expected to be going into late January without knowing where he was going for spring training.The longtime Ray's first foray into free agency hasn't gone as planned, much like the 150-plus others waiting for something to give in a...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Wozniacki advances to quarterfinals

Wozniacki advances to quarterfinals

MELBOURNE, Australia — Second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki is through to the Australian Open quarterfinals and with a chance to regain the No. 1 ranking in women’s tennis. Wozniacki beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-0 today at Rod Laver Arena. Rybarikova...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Sports in brief

SPORTSNO AIR FORCE GAMES; NFL BROADCASTS ABROAD IN JEOPARDYThe federal government shutdown prompted the Air Force Academy on Saturday to call off sports events and upended plans for military outside the United States wanting to follow today’s NFL con...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jalen Hudson came off the bench to score 17, and Chris Chiozza, Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes contributed clutch baskets down the stretch as Florida rallied to upset No. 18 Kentucky 66-64 Saturday night. "We were able to win it jus...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Avalanche climbs into playoff spot with ninth straight win

DENVER — The Avalanche has gone from pushover to powerhouse in less than a season, and its recent streak is evoking memories of past glory. Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson and Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist each, Jonathan Bernier made 27 save...
Updated: 9 hours ago
After rout, LeBron scoffs at playoffs

After rout, LeBron scoffs at playoffs

CLEVELAND — LeBron James came up just short of 30,000 points. Oklahoma City nearly got there, too. Unable to stop Paul George, Russell Westbrook or Carmelo Anthony, the Cavaliers were embarrassed 148-124 Saturday by the Thunder, which not only rolled...
Updated: 9 hours ago
McIlroy shoots third-round 65, trails by 1 at Abu Dhabi

McIlroy shoots third-round 65, trails by 1 at Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Rory McIlroy fired 7-under 65 Saturday in the third round of the Abu Dhabi Championship to move one shot behind co-leaders Ross Fisher and Thomas Pieters. Fisher shot 65 and overnight leader Pieters added 67 to reach...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Sunday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballMiami at N.C. StatenoonCh. 44Rutgers at MichigannoonBig TenWomen: South Carolina at KentuckynoonESPNUWomen: Marquette at VillanovanoonFS1Women: George Washington at DaytonnoonCBSSNWomen: Virginia Tech at Virginia12:30 p.m.Fox S...
Updated: 9 hours ago

National Hoopfest: St. Petersburg’s Serrel Smith shines in loss to national power

TAMPA — Where there's a will, there's a way. And Serrel Smith had a gym-full of will on Saturday.With St. Petersburg trailing nationally-ranked Oak Hill Academy by as many as 21 points in the third quarter of the National Hoopfest contest, Smit...
Updated: 9 hours ago