Kevin Harvick capped a tremendously successful weekend at the Phoenix International Raceway with a late race pass on Greg Biffle to clinch a nail biting Subway Fresh 500.
The second night race at the one-mile desert oval was a cracker, Harvick hanging on to win after a tense 80-lap green flag run to the chequered flag in which several of the top runners ran out of fuel in the final minutes.
After winning the Busch Series race on Friday night, Harvick was a contender from the word go, moving up from 15th on the grid into the top ten shortly after the 50-lap mark and finally grabbing the lead with nine laps remaining as Biffle was forced to back off in an effort to save fuel.
Despite backing-off Biffle was forced to pit on lap 309 of 312, dropping him to 16th after he led more than 150 laps and continuing his foul run of luck so far in 2006.
Harvick had enough fuel in reserve to do the obligatory burnout after the race, the first time he has had the chance to do so in the Cup Series since March 2005 at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Harvick's boss, Richard Childress, was not in attendance to witness the first major reward of his teams off-season reorganisation, but will undoubtedly be delighted at Harvick's win, which comes just as he and the driver of the #29 GM Goodwrench try to thrash out a new deal together.
Biffle was not the only Roush driver to fall a little short on his fuel mileage as Mark Martin, who would have finished second also ran dry on the final tour and dropped to eleventh. Like Biffle, Martin led large portions of the race but then fell to 16th after having to pit twice under caution to tighten a wheel nut. The driver of the #6 Ford then narrowly escaped disaster in the second of two big pile-ups coming off turn four with 90 laps to go and was in the process of a magnificent fight back when his tank ran dry.
Tony Stewart eventually took the chequered flag in second place after having to start from the back of the 43-car field following a tyre mix-up after Bud Pole qualifying. For much of the final run Stewart was Biffle's closest competition before allowing Harvick to get by on lap 299. However his decision not to fight too much with his off-track buddy paid off, as he was able to nurse his car home without an extra fuel stop.
Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards proved that Roush Racing's fuel mileage isn't all bad as they finished third and fourth respectively with leading rookie Clint Bowyer a fine fifth and Kasey Kahne completing the top half dozen.
Points leader entering the race Jimmie Johnson lost several places in the final quarter of the race and finished seventh, losing the unofficial championship lead to Kenseth in the process while Bobby Labonte enjoyed a great day in his own points battle as he finished eighth.