BY JIM UTTER
CHARLOTTE OBSERVER (MCT)
AVONDALE, Ariz. — And then there were four.
Kevin Harvick dominated the field in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 500 at Phoenix International Raceway for his third consecutive Sprint Cup Series win at the track and raced his way into a berth in next weekend’s championship race at Homestead, Fla.
Joining Harvick to race for the 2014 series title next Sunday are Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman, who passed Kyle Larson for position on the last lap to earn the title berth.
Jeff Gordon finished second in the race, Matt Kenseth was third, Brad Keselowski was fourth and Hamlin was fifth.
Gordon, Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Kenseth failed to advance of Round 3 of the Chase.
Hamlin, the pole-winner, took command early and led the first 24 laps.
Debris on the backstretch brought out the first caution of the race on Lap 32. During a round of pit stops,
Hamlin was forced to pit twice after the valve stem of his right-rear tire was knocked out during his pit stop.
Logano took over the lead on the restart on Lap 36.
Harvick moved into the lead on Lap 40 and moved out to a big advantage.
Casey Mears wrecked on Lap 81 to bring out the second caution. After a round of pit stops, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took over the race lead on Lap 88 after taking just two new tires. Harvick restarted second and Gordon third.
Harvick quickly moved into the lead on the restart.
Debris in Turn 1 allowed teams to pit for tires and fuel on Lap 125. During the stop, Logano received a penalty from NASCAR for removing equipment (his fuel can) from his pit stall. Harvick remained in the lead on the restart on Lap 128. Logano restarted in 26th.
Austin Dillon hit the wall on Lap 185 to bring out the fifth caution. Harvick continued in the lead on the restart on Lap 192.
Debris in Turn 1 brought out another caution on Lap 201, which allowed Logano to return to the lead lap via a free pass for being the first car one lap down. Harvick led the way on the restart on Lap 206.
Ty Dillon and Josh Wise triggered a wreck on Lap 206, which brought out the seventh caution of the race. Hamlin was able to return to the lead lap via the free pass. Harvick was still the leader on the restart on Lap 212.
A three-car incident involving Cole Whitt, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch brought out the caution on Lap 212.
NASCAR red-flagged the race for nearly four minutes to clean debris from the track. On the restart on Lap 221, Harvick was out front followed by Kyle Larson and Keselowski.
Jimmie Johnson hit the wall on Lap 236 to bring out the ninth caution of the race. All of the lead-lap cars pit for fuel and tires with Harvick maintaining the lead on the restart on Lap 244 followed by Gordon and Kenseth.
Jamie McMurray wrecked on Lap 244 to bring out the 10th caution of the day. On the restart on Lap 249,
Harvick again moved out to a big lead.
Debris on the frontstretch brought out another caution. On the restart, Harvick led the way again.
Mike Wallace and Landon Cassill wrecked on Lap 297 to bring out a record 12th caution. Harvick restarted on Lap 301 in the lead followed by Gordon and Kenseth.