Phoenix NASCAR: Harvick wins, Edwards runs dry, Johnson nears title

Kevin Harvick grabbed the Phoenix NASCAR Sprint Cup win as Carl Edwards ran out of fuel on the last lap, while Jimmie Johnson moved to the brink of a sixth title

Phoenix NASCAR: Harvick wins, Edwards runs dry, Johnson nears title

As Johnson took third place behind Hendrick team-mate Kasey Kahne, his championship rival Matt Kenseth struggled to 23rd.

That gives Johnson a 28-point lead heading to next Sunday's Homestead season finale and means he only needs to finish 23rd or higher there to become 2013 champion.

Johnson achieved that result despite two major scares during the Phoenix race.

The first came on the opening lap, when he immediately lost his pole advantage and ended up three-abreast with Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Contact with the latter sent Johnson sliding, but he regained control in sixth place.

A host of mid-race yellows prompted a wide array of different pit strategies and a constantly shuffled order, and it was during that period that Johnson was knocked sideways again as Edwards slid into him while avoiding a dive from Harvick.

The points leader stayed out of the wall and continued back in 25th place, but was able to quickly regain ground as the strategies played out and with some assertive driving.

When the race order finally settled for the last 30 laps, Edwards was leading in his Roush Fenway Ford by a second over Kahne.

Harvick's Richard Childress Chevrolet had the freshest tyres of the lead cars and was able to pass Johnson and Kahne in quick succession to take second.

Edwards still looked set for a second Phoenix win of 2013 as he maintained a one-second cushion, until his car ran dry approaching the white flag.

As Edwards trickled to the finish in 21st place, Harvick claimed victory by 1.7 seconds over Kahne, with Johnson next up.

Kenseth was off the pace all day. A terrible mid-race pitstop, just after Johnson's incident with Edwards threw him a lifeline, put Kenseth right back in 29th, and he made little progress, finishing a lapped 21st.

Dale Earnhardt Jr fought back to fourth after a loose wheel left him a lap down in 35th place early on.

Kurt Busch completed the top five, with Juan Pablo Montoya producing a strong drive to sixth position.

The various tactical permutations meant that Logano, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon all led for long spells but finished ninth, 10th, 11th and 14th.

Hamlin had led the first 18 laps following Logano and Johnson's brush, but a dramatic loss of pace, a spin and a pitlane speeding penalty dropped him to 28th.

Results - 312 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 2h57m03.000s 2. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet +1.796s 3. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet +2.925s 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet +4.309s 5. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet +5.118s 6. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet +6.338s 7. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota +6.977s 8. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota +7.303s 9. Joey Logano Penske Ford +8.203s 10. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +8.699s 11. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford +9.048s 12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford +9.470s 13. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +10.029s 14. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +10.824s 15. Mark Martin Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +11.604s 16. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +12.791s 17. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet +13.210s 18. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet +14.261s 19. Aric Almirola Petty Ford +15.766s 20. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +18.973s 21. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +33.608s 22. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota +1 lap 23. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota +1 lap 24. David Gilliland Front Row Ford +1 lap 25. Elliott Sadler Waltrip Toyota +1 lap 26. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford +1 lap 27. Casey Mears Germain Ford +1 lap 28. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota +1 lap 29. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet +1 lap 30. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet +2 laps 31. Justin Allgaier Phoenix Chevrolet +3 laps 32. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford +4 laps 33. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +10 laps 34. Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford +27 laps 35. David Ragan Front Row Ford +30 laps Retirements: Josh Wise Front Row Ford 280 laps Reed Sorenson Leavine Ford 266 laps Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 193 laps David Reutimann BK Toyota 187 laps Cole Whitt Swan Toyota 142 laps Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 129 laps Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet 63 laps Tony Raines Circle Sport Chevrolet 29 laps 
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NASCAR Phoenix: Points leader Jimmie Johnson claims pole position

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