5 things to know about the Phoenix NASCAR race

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AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Kevin Harvick and the rest of the new team at Stewart-Haas Racing are still trying to learn everyone’s names.

That hasn’t stopped them from winning right away.

Dominating from the start, Harvick raced away from the field for his second straight win at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, putting a stamp of validation on his new relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing.

“This phenomenal,” said Gene Haas, co-owner of SHR with Tony Stewart. “I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this? Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”

Harvick raised a few eyebrows last season when word leaked that he was leaving Richard Childress Racing, a team he had been a part of since 1999, for Stewart-Haas.

Harvick worked around the distractions by winning his penultimate race with RCR and spent the offseason trying to mesh with everyone on his new team.

After a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500, Harvick had the fastest car in practice at Phoenix and carried it into the race, charging to the lead early and staying there most of the day. He led 224 of 312 laps and pulled away on several late restarts to win for the fifth time on the odd-shaped oval at PIR, passing Jimmie Johnson for most all-time.

Not bad for his second race with SHR and new crew chief Rodney Childers.

“As you go through time, the sky’s the limit for this team because everybody’s still trying to learn each other’s names, let alone what’s going on with the race car,” Harvick said. “They all know the parts and pieces of the race car that they’re working on, but I guarantee you if line them all up, there would not be one person who knew everybody’s name on the team.”

A few of the other developments from Sunday’s race:

JUNIOR’S FINISH: Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500, spending the week making appearances and accepting congratulations.

It would have been easy for him to have a letdown or be fatigued with everything that went on, but he didn’t back off the throttle.

Earnhardt qualified fifth in NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying and ran near the front all afternoon.

He didn’t have enough to catch Harvick, but finishing second a week after winning at Daytona was quite an accomplishment. Earnhardt leads the Sprint Cup series with 90 points.

KESELOWSKI STILL STRONG: Brad Keselowski had a strong start to his weekend, earning a pole sweep in Nationwide and Sprint Cup in Phoenix.

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