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Mayhem as Harvick wins and Johnson wrecks

"It's easy to look back on it, obviously, and wish that you did something different," added Pemberton, tacitly admitting that with 20-20 hindsight the call may have been the wrong one. "But at the time, it didn't appear like there was any fluid that was coming out of the car."

But the race was finally done, and Harvick was in victory lane. It was rather ironic that Harvick should emerge the winner in a Childress car at Phoenix, given that the weekend had started with a shock ESPN report that Harvick had signed a deal to join Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 after the end of his current contract with Childress at the end of next season - something neither man was willing to comment on in post-race interviews.

Kyle Busch ended up losing second spot to his team mate Denny Hamlin at the line, and Busch took the blame for not nailing the final restart attempt.

"Great day. Guys gave me an awesome car. Just gave it away at the end. Just didn't pick the right lane. It's my fault. So, it seems to be the way the year goes," he sighed. "Kevin got out a little bit on me. Denny got alongside of me. Just made me really loose trying to battle with the #11 so I couldn't even drive forward at all. We just basically handed the race on a silver platter to the #29."

"The track is just so slick. We're running on such hard tires. You can't get a grip on it and it makes for exciting racing like we saw today," added Hamlin. "Everyone's just sliding around and sliding into each other. Of course, it makes for excitement on TV, but obviously it also makes for championship implications as well."

Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman came home in fourth and fifth, and then it was Brad Keselowski, with slight damage to his Dodge from one of the final lap wrecks but still safely classified in sixth place which meant that he would be 20pts ahead of Johnson going into the final race of the year at Homestead-Miami next weekend. All other drivers are now mathematically out of contention for the 2012 title.

"It's way, way out of our control," admitted Johnson of where this leaves his hopes for a sixth Cup title. "We still have to go to Homestead and race and anything can happen down there. But this is not the position we want to be in late in Phoenix ... I just hate for our day to turn out as it did today. But, that's racing and we'll go to Homestead and do all we can down there and see how things pan out.”

But Keselowski wasn't getting ahead of himself, and was all too aware that a battle that could swing so far in one direction one week could easily swing right back again at the next race.

“Nothing is over until it's over, and the same problems that Jimmie had today we could have next week at Homestead," he pointed out. "So we just need to keep our head down and focus on what lays ahead."

Full race results, Saturday practice times and Sprint Cup Championship standings are available.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson drives the wrecked #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet after hitting the wall in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 11, 2012 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 11, 2012 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Police break up fights in the garage area after an on-track incident between Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon (neither pictured) during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 11, 2012 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images_
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, collide on track during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 11, 2012 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, lead a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, climbs from his car after being involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Hellmann`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Hellmann`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Hellmann`s Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with Jared Fogle of Subway after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS, qualified fifth Friday, July 4, 2014 for Saturday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Johnson is 2nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, applies the Winner`s Decal after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

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