Harvick and the ‘Luck Bank,’ plus hard racing, add up at Phoenix

If we had all sat in a room back in January and tried to come up with a way to make the final elimination race at Phoenix more exciting, I honestly don’t think we could have come up with anything better than what we saw Sunday. The reality is we all knew exactly what it was going to be like and it delivered in spades.

I mentioned last week that all those remaining Chase drivers were going to run well at Phoenix and they did. If you remember too, earlier last week I told you had I had that gut feeling that Kevin Harvick’s string of success at Phoenix was probably going to end. The law of averages finally did catch up with him. To put it another, way as my FOX NASCAR buddy Darrell Waltrip would say, “Kevin was overdrawn at the Luck Bank.”

I didn’t just wake up one morning and come up with that that thought. I based it on performance before and during the Chase. It’s been a very up and down Chase for Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team. I certainly didn’t expect them to run that bad Sunday, but to come out of there with a fourth-place finish is actually pretty miraculous for that team. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t good enough and Kevin’s quest for a second championship will have to wait another year.

There at the end it was pretty near impossible to keep up with all the changes taking place because all the major players were battling not only for the win, but every single position. I don’t know how you could ask for more excitement than what Phoenix delivered Sunday.

It was just a great race and not limited to the Chase drivers. Young Alex Bowman, who is filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. not only sat on the pole but also led an incredible 194 laps. Things got jumbled up there at the end and he was only able to finish sixth, but what a great performance from that young man.

I don’t know if you happened to notice it, but the top four that went into Phoenix were the top four that came out. This is the first year that three of the four championship-round drivers won all the races in Round 3.

I think we have a stage set for this Sunday at Homestead like no other. It’s going to be hard to top the previous two years under this new format in the season finale, but we definitely have the potential to do it.

I know there were a lot of people blaming themselves on what happened on that last restart with Matt Kenseth and Alex Bowman. I know there are also folks pointing fingers at others about it as well. My hopes are that when everyone goes back and looks at it, they’ll all agree that it was simply hard racing on a restart.

You had a bunch of folks that had to win that race or their championship dreams were eliminated. So I just don’t think anyone should blame someone else and as I mentioned, I saw a lot of drivers blaming themselves — which I just don’t think they should do. It was hard racing when the chips were down — nothing more and nothing less.