In a photo finish Kevin Harvick nipped Carl Edwards by a one-hundredth of a second to win Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. The official margin of victory was 0.010 seconds.
With fresher tires than Harvick, Edwards got a run on Harvick entering Turn 3 on the white flag lap and nudged Harvick up the track. But Harvick was able to stay alongside Edwards and the two body-banged twice coming to the finish line.
"I would have done the same thing," Harvick said of Edwards bumping him. "That's really what NASCAR racing is all about. You're coming to the checkered flag and he wants to win for his team and I want to win for my team, and there's a lot on the line. It's definitely the way that things should have been done."
The finish was setup by a Kasey Kahne hitting the wall with six laps remaining that erased Harvick's sizeable lead and necessitated the race going into overtime. During the caution period Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers eschewed not stopping for fresh tires, preferring to hold the lead and maintain track position. Also staying out were Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon.
On the ensuing restart with two laps to go, Edwards, who pitted for two tires, lined up fourth and quickly moved past Earnhardt and Dillon. He tried to pass Harvick entering Turn 1 on the final lap, but when Harvick held him off Edwards knew his only chance of getting around Harvick was by force.
"I ran into him about as hard as I thought I could without wrecking him, and it ended up being a drag race," Edwards said. "It was kind of fun coming to the line because I thought, ‘Man, I got him.' Then, he doored me real hard and got a little run, and then I tried to door him and slow him down, but it just didn't work."
The win was Harvick's eighth overall at Phoenix and his sixth in the past eight races on the 1-mile desert track. Denny Hamlin finished third, with Kyle Busch and Earnhardt completing the top five.
Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, rookie Chase Elliott, Dillon and rookie Ryan Blaney placed sixth through 10th, respectively.
"I just like racing here," Harvick said. "It's just one of those places where I feel like I've been here enough times to where I can move around and find something to make our car work."
Sunday was the second time in four races this season that the winner was determined by the slimmest of margins, with Phoenix mirroring how the season-opening Daytona 500 concluded where Hamlin narrowly edged Martin Truex Jr. by the same advantage Harvick held over Edwards.
Daytona and Phoenix are tied for the seventh-closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history since the implementation of electronic timing and scoring in 1993. The record for closest finish is 0.002 seconds when Ricky Craven clipped Kurt Busch in 2003 at Darlington Raceway.