Harvick wins third straight race

Kevin Harvick driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Ford poses in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway

Harvick wins third straight race

Wickens led a race-high 69 of the 110 laps. Harvick picked off Hamlin on the next lap and from there it was essentially a two man race.

Learning how to shoulder the responsibility of a team is a lesson that many drivers face in their careers, but it is one that Harvick has learned better than most.

Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on for the TicketGuardian 500 on Sunday, courtesy of Frontstretch.com's Corey Brewer.

Harvick will carry early-season power into Phoenix. The cost is worth it.

The pulse in the garage was that while the violations didn't contribute totally to the Harvick dominance at Las Vegas, it certainly didn't hurt a team that has everything going for it at the moment - other than a pesky NASCAR tech process.

Moving on to ISM Raceway, Busch has finished seventh or better in the past five races there.

Harvick took the lead with 22 laps left when Ryan Newman finally made his last stop on the sunny afternoon after morning rain. Though he started first, Kyle Larson would lead lap 1, and set the pace early on.

Our leader in the standings, Joey Logano, hasn't won a race yet, but he's been the most consistent driver on the year.

(3) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 312.

Hamlin finished fourth behind Elliott in third. He seems to feed off the drama, especially at Phoenix, a place where he won in 2012 as news was breaking that he was going to leave Richard Childress Racing after the 2013 season and then won again in 2013 a couple of weeks after ripping Childress' grandkids at Martinsville.

Kevin Harvick celbrates with champagne in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway
Harvick wins third straight race

In each lap, the moves began as they entered turn 1 and battled around the corner through turn 2. He won in dominant fashion, leading 214 of 267 laps.

On Sunday, the team placed all four of its vehicle inside the top-10 for the first time in team history.

Through three 2018 Cup races, Hamlin has been quietly putting together great finishes.

Before the Daytona 500, Byron had never run a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, making his learning curve as steep as it can possibly be. He hasn't finished any lower than sixth in the last 10 races at the track, a span that includes six wins.

Expect Hamlin to continue that strong start in the desert this weekend.

Harvick is coming off consecutive victories in Atlanta and Las Vegas and has a record eight Cup victories at the track. The seven-time season champion is winless in 26 races, the longest drought of his career. The youngster only has an average finish of 15.7 around this oval but managed another solid performance in 2016.

So, was Harvick happy in Victory Lane? The evolution of things starts to happen more rapidly. That could make him a sneaky play this week. After winning the NASCAR Cup race Sunday at the track, Harvick insinuated that NASCAR's sanction fee is so big in Xfinity and trucks for support races during its NASCAR Cup weekends that the track opted to save money by not having the regional race. "I took a picture of the screen when we had all four cars in the top seven". To that end, he was proud to have his three teammates join him inside the top-10. His run in Phoenix subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr.in 2016 was a large reason why he is in the No. 88 vehicle today. The defending champion started in the 14th position a year ago and finished off the day at Phoenix Raceway in 11th in 2017. The young driver sat third in round one and second in round two.

Becoming a family man, son Keelan is five and daughter Piper Grace was born on December 30, also forced Harvick to look at things from a different perspective. "Definitely a fun day".

This race may give us our most exciting finish of the season with late restarts being a key to victory.

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