Kevin Harvick scores third win of 2018 at Phoenix

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The rain moved east from the Phoenix area Sunday.

Denny Hamlin's No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota wasn't as fast as the No. 4 Ford of race victor Kevin Harvick, but Hamlin did an admirable job of keeping Harvick behind him for 46 laps in Sunday's TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway.

Even though it seems right now that Kevin Harvick is the hottest driver in years, one only needs to go back three seasons to find someone who won three NASCAR Cup Series races in a row.

The race consists of 312 laps on the one-mile track and is broken into three stages separated at laps 75 and 150.

Martin Truex Jr won the pole Friday for the NASCAR Cup Series race which will be held later today at ISM Raceway.

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In fact, Hamlin's ability to frustrate Harvick's repeated attempts to pass enabled JGR teammate Kyle Busch to catch and pass both of them for the lead.

Busch was 0.774 seconds back.

Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Truex were also in the mix and on lap 208, Hamlin grabbed the lead with Harvick following.

"Actions speak a whole lot louder than all the words I can say this week, tweets that you can send out". I'm proud of everybody.

From lap 232 through lap 244, Hamlin, Harvick and Busch staged a spirited and crowd pleasing fight for first.

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Though Harvick has a history of dominating races at ISM Raceway, he would only lead 38 laps en route to his victory. Interestingly, three different Roush Fenway Racing Fords finished runner-up to Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet during the last three of those four races. Kurt Busch held off Brad Keselowski to win.

"Those are some of the folks that I go to for any advice, because - Denny, Kevin, Darrell -those are guys that are going to tell you the way it is", DiBenedetto said. In victory lane, Harvick said how "pissed off" the penalty and its response from fans had made him all week long. "When you have all the guys and everybody looking at the race auto and the determination for every last detail".

"I had a pretty good turn those last two runs, and before that I wasn't turning good enough and (didn't have) too good of forward bite. Once the four gets clear of traffic and gets in his own air, it's hard to beat that guy".

Early on, Larson appeared to be the man to beat.

Busch stayed on the track while the leaders pitted after Chris Buescher hit the wall on Lap 146. Larson spun on lap 122, bringing out a brief caution. While he wasn't knocked out of the race, he slowly faded, finishing 18, setting the stage for the Harvick-Busch duel.

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"We hate doing this, but we are UNSPONSORED as of right now for @ISMRaceway this weekend!" As a result, the "Cactus King" had more motivation than ever to win at Phoenix. "I can't explain it but today's win is just so rewarding", said Harvick.

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