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NASCAR Phoenix 2016: Kevin Harvick knew Carl Edwards would hit him

Considering the stakes, Kevin Harvick knew Carl Edwards would do try and shove him out of the lead as they raced to the checkered flag.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Kevin Harvick has a made career of winning by the slightest of margins. His first career Cup Series win came when he defeated Jeff Gordon by 0.006 seconds in 2001 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He won the 2007 Daytona 500 by a scant two one-hundredths of a second over Mark Martin.

So it's no surprise Harvick came out ahead when he edged Carl Edwards by 0.010 seconds on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway — tied for the seventh-closes finish in NASCAR Cup Series history since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993.

The finish featured Edwards bumping Harvick out of the lead entering Turn 3 on the white flag lap. Edwards then pulled underneath Harvick and appeared set to win, only for Harvick to rally back and after twice body-slamming Edwards, narrowly beat him to the checkered flag.

"Coming off of Turn 4, I had some momentum but I needed to do everything I could to try to scrub some momentum off of his car," Harvick said. "And by the time he realized that I had that momentum — he tried to do the same thing — we were too far towards the start‑finish line.

"Sometimes I can tell you that you plan it all that way, but sometimes you're just lucky as hell."

When Harvick elected not to pit under caution with five laps remaining to maintain his lead, he knew he was in a precarious position. Also not stopping were Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon, while Edwards, who was first off pit road after taking two tires, restarted fourth in the two-lap overtime.

"I just figured I was going to be on defense regardless — just for the fact that everybody wants to win a race — especially these corners where you have the high‑braking situations, you're pretty vulnerable," Harvick said.

That Edwards shoved him out of the way didn't surprise Harvick, who fully anticipated Edwards doing just that. Why? Because with a victory on the line, Harvick would have done the same if in the situation Edwards found himself in.

"That's really what NASCAR racing is all about," Harvick said. "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. I fully expected it going into Turn 3 and would have done the same thing."

The win was Harvick's sixth victory in the past eight Phoenix races, but this one carried added meaning. He and Edwards have a contentious history including a 2008 scuffle that saw Edwards grab Harvick by the throat and Edwards placed in a headlock. And though they have since made amends, the two aren't necessarily the closest of friends.

"I don't think there's any real love lost between the two of us," Harvick said. "I knew that I was going to get hit, and I'm going to hit him in the same type of manner, just for the fact that I don't want to spin him out. But you definitely want to rough him up because that's not the guy that I want to lose to, and I know he doesn't want to lose to me."