Dominant teams often can have dominant races, but they come few and far between. Plus, it's hard to have a team that comes together with a new driver, and to do so in just the second race of the year.
Yet somehow, the new No. 4 crew at Stewart-Haas Racing managed to get it done.
It was last fall when Kevin Harvick took home his final victory as part of RCR, a year which he knew all along he would be the lame-duck driver of the season, but he wanted to go out on top. He came to SHR, and brought funding, and a positive attitude to the team that was already losing their driver, and also an organization that was expanding as a group. But, Phoenix was a track he knew well, and proved he could win at. Heading into the weekend, the eyes were all on the No. 4, and in the 312 laps run, there was no doubt that feeling was shown to be realistic.
The Jimmy John's Chevy was out front for 224 laps, nearly 75 percent of the race. The only way Harvick was losing was if he beat himself, and it never happened. Second race at SHR, and he's already a Chase driver. Not bad for someone a year ago who he said was a self-proclaimed "lame duck."
That win also showed a lot of spark in the pool, as for another week it's multiple writers achieving wins. Not just two or three, but a record five writers took a win this week, the most in the three years this pool has been in existence. Points are still close, as you can now see after the Profit on CNBC 500:
Rob Tiongson (88) Kevin Harvick WON - 1
Patti Rodisch (86) Kevin Harvick WON - 1
Kara Martin (86) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th - 1
Dustin Parks (84) Kevin Harvick WON - 1
Ryan O'Hara (73) Denny Hamlin finished 19th - 1
Billy Fellin (69) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th - 0
Rob Blount (67) Denny Hamlin finished 19th - 0
Sal Sigala Jr (64) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th - 0
Michael Hirshbein (61) Kyle Busch finished 9th - 0
James Broomhead (57) Kevin Harvick WON - 1
Aaron Rosser (57) Kevin Harvick WON - 1
Misan Akuya (51) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd - 0
Next Race: The first part of the season is run at different tracks, almost giving everyone different opportunities to get used to the changes on the car for the season. The next race is run on a track size that makes up the bulk of the entire schedule. At the same time, it's at a city where the season concludes, at least when it comes to handing out awards and honoring a champion.
NASCAR now hits the first 1.5-mile speedway of the season, and it goes to a city that has everyone that visits take a gamble. No slot machines at this track, although there is a jackpot worth winning. There's no crap tables, but everyone rolls the dice once in a while. Welcome to Sin City, Las Vegas.
Writers, put all your chips in the pot, and have your picks for the Kobalt Tools 400 ready and submitted by Thursday, March 6, at 10 p.m. ET.