Larry Mac: No surprise Harvick and No. 4 team strong early

Kevin Harvick celebrates with his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team following Sunday's dominant win at Phoenix International Raceway.

Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images

For anyone who didn’t actually watch the race at Phoenix on Sunday and just looked at the results, they would see that Kevin Harvick turned in a dominating performance, winning his fifth race at Phoenix and third in the last four years there. Taking it a step further, only Joey Logano was able to make it into the double digits in the laps led category.

If you did happen to watch the race you saw, however, that there were many different storylines to be followed all race long. Even with Kevin leading so many laps, there was still some very excellent racing. The restarts, which are always exciting at Phoenix, once again didn’t disappoint us.

Even at the end of the race we had something like 38 or 39 of the starting 43 cars still on the track. It gave Kevin a lot of situations in lap traffic, but we also saw all day long some great racing for the second spot, the fifth spot, and on and on. We just had really hard racing all through the field.

What I find really interesting is something I am hearing in every post-race interview. Obviously, you have to attribute it to the change in the Chase format that went into place this season. These drivers are so focused on winning, and nothing else really matters. You heard Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief Steve Letarte mention it over the team radio when the issue of Dale being short on fuel came up. Steve told him they were going for the win because that’s what they were there for.

Joey Logano said after the race that despite the fact he had a solid day going, he was doing all he could to get up there to contend with Kevin for the win because that’s all that matters right now. It’s not about a good points day. It’s all about winning. I am really seeing these drivers across the board having that mentality. Trust me, it’s a beautiful thing!

It has just seemed like from the very start that the No. 4 team has come together nicely, and I think we all are expecting some pretty great things from them in 2014 despite they are a first-year team. I just felt so good about the combination of Kevin and his new crew chief Rodney Childers even when I started hearing the rumors it was a possibility.

With all the testing that has gone on during the off-season and even up to this point, I constantly hear from folks about how bad-fast that No. 4 is. I spent time with Kevin at Daytona and he told me that it’s almost scary to him how fast they’ve been no matter where they go to test. In fact, he said he knew from about his third lap at the very first test back at Charlotte Motor Speedway that, as he put it, "this was going to be a sweet deal."