NASCAR Recap: Phoenix International Speedway, Entering into the Auto Club 400 Sprint Cup Series, Jimmy Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Chace Elliott

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Updated: March 16, 2018

KEVIN HARVICK, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford, winner of the Ticket Guardian 500

Q: With emotions and frustrations running high, what type of message does this performance send? HARVICK: “I’ve been mad as all get out because this team does a great job. This organization does a great job, and we’ve got fast race cars, and to take that away from those guys just really pissed me off last week. To come here to a racetrack that is so good for us is a lot of fun, and everyone was just determined this week, and we just wanted to just go stomp them (competitors). We didn’t stomp them, but we won, and that’s really all that matters, so I’m just proud of this team. It (penalties imposed from last race) put a fire in our belly. This just felt really more important than winning at Homestead (Homestead-Miami Speedway), a race for a championship just to drive it home for all those supporters out there. ”

Q: Describe the race from your perspective.
HARVICK: “Well the first thing I want to do is thank all those fans up there. They’ve been there for me since
1994. Thank you guys [for] supporting us all week and all these years. It definitely was a battle today, I had a lot of fun racing with Kyle [Busch] and Denny [Hamlin] and Chase [Elliott] there for the win. Our car just kept getting better, it looked like Kyle started to get loose off of the corner, and the No. 9 was definitely too loose as we got towards the end of the race. I’ve just got to thank everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing for everything that they do, especially this No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford team for everything that they’ve dug in,
and got we’ve got after this weekend to do. I’m proud of this Jimmy John’s Ford.”

Q: Describe that racing you were talking about. What was the car doing and what was it that you needed to do to get around?
HARVICK: “Well I just couldn’t finish it on Denny, and I knew that if I didn’t get around Chase that Kyle was going to be coming, so I just had to drive it in and slide it up the racetrack, and eventually that’s what I would have had to do to Denny. But I got myself in a hole there and just kind of got stuck and didn’t continue on by as I caught him. It was just a great day, a lot of fun racing and I couldn’t be happier right now.”

Q: Three in a row, first time in your career, you stretch out your most wins here at nine, and you also tied a pretty impressive driver in Mark Martin, 40th win for the Hall of Famer. What’s your reaction to those numbers?
HARVICK: “Anytime you can get close to Mark Martin doing anything, I feel honored. As you look at our sport, Mark has obviously won a lot of races and just a great person, as you look at him and talk to him and are around him, he’s a great man. It’s been fortunate to have pit cars and win some races through the years, lucked into a few of them, I earned a few of them, and I’m just having fun and fortunate to be on a race team like this.”

CHASE ELLIOTT, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, finished third
Q: What was the difference when Kevin Harvick eventually passed you for the lead?
ELLIOTT: “Yeah we had a good car — solid. Alan [Gustafson] made a good call there at the end and we had a good pit stop there to get us the lead. I just felt like I needed a little forward drive there to put the power down in front of him. I had pretty good turn those last two runs, and before that I wasn’t turning good enough and had too good of forward bite. He [Kevin Harvick] was definitely the car to beat and it felt like there was a lot of laps left and I tried my best to hold him off as long as I could, but I felt like he and Kyle [Busch] had just a little bit on us. But we’ll go to work and try to get better for California.”
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MARTIN TRUEX JR., driver of the No. 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota, finished fifth
Q: You had a good race, but a quiet one. Describe your run today.
TRUEX: “Just another solid day for us. Not a great day, not what we were hoping for. There were times in the
race where we were really good, and then we just lost our track position there with about 80 laps to go. We
had one run that went long that we got really bad on. Then the rest of the day we were pretty close, so just lost a little bit there. I felt like we could run second or third maybe. One run we were as good as anyone, we just couldn’t keep it perfect all day.”
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DENNY HAMLIN, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota, finished fourth
Q: Denny Hamlin a fourth place run today. Led some laps, Denny, good fight early on before the closing pit stops, what was the difference in your race car at the end?
HAMLIN: “Just lacked a little speed honestly. Once, we got the rear of the car hooked up there in the middle part of the race after we had the pit road miscue. Our car really took off and ran extremely well. As we started to lose rear grip, that’s when those guys started to run us back down. So we got a good baseline there to come back here in the playoff race, and we’ll build on that and have fun when we come back. ”

Q: Certainly, a hotter day than what we have seen here over the last couple of days with the sun beating down. How much did that change things for you and your race car?
HAMLIN: “This is beautiful Phoenix weather, couldn’t be happier to be here, but it didn’t change a whole lot with our race car. I think track temperatures might have been a little bit hotter, but really it just made our car a little bit freer. But we adjusted for it, fixed it, but I still couldn’t get the chronic issue out.”
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This concludes Pit Notes for the TicketGuardian 500. We hope your experiences this weekend have been enjoyable and productive. We hope to see some of in less than a month when ISM Raceway celebrates the
25th anniversary of Mario Andretti’s final Indy car victory, which happened here in 1993. The IndyCar Phoenix Grand Prix will shine under the lights on April 6-7. If you cannot make that event, we hope you can attend the Can-Am 500 weekend November 9-11. The November race weekend will feature a completely reconfigured infield, removal of all grandstands on the straightaway, and the completion of the new grandstands and suites running from what is currently Turn 2 and the dogleg. It is safe to say that you will barely recognize this facility when you return and you will be impressed. Until then, we wish you safe travels and much success. Good night.