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Kevin Harvick’s dominance continues; cruises to Las Vegas victory (VIDEO)

Kobalt 400 - Practice

Kobalt 400 - Practice

Drew Hallowell

Kevin Harvick’s torrid streak continued with his victory in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It marks the reigning champion’s sixth consecutive top-two finish, dating back to last season.

The last time a driver scored six consecutive top-two finishes was Jeff Gordon in 1996.

“Those guys are on another level as far as speed is concerned,” fifth-place finisher Denny Hamlin said about Harvick’s car.

Harvick had the dominant car, rallying from his 18th starting spot. He became the seventh different winner in the last seven Sprint Cup races at Las Vegas.

“It’s so cool to win here in Las Vegas and to start this West Coast swing off this way is pretty awesome,’’ Harvick said after his 29th career Sprint Cup victory.Martin Truex Jr. placed second with Ryan Newman third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. fell back late to fourth.

MORE: Three thoughts on Sunday’s race.

For as good as Harvick’s car was throughout the race, the finish was not easy.

“It got to be a handful there at the end,’’ he said. “For whatever reason we got really, really loose the last run. Tires started vibrating and we were just kind of hanging on.’’

He did for his first victory of the season.

How Kevin Harvick won: He had the best car and led the most laps. Had Jimmie Johnson made it to the end, maybe he could have challenged Harvick but Harvick clearly was the dominant car.

Who else had a good day: Martin Truex Jr.’s runner-up finish gives him three consecutive top-10 finishes to open the season, something he didn’t do last year with Furniture Row Racing. AJ Allmendinger’s sixth-place finish followed his seventh-place result last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Who had a bad day: Jimmie Johnson was strong early but had to pit for a loose wheel. Things got worse when he had a tire blow, sending him into the wall with less than 100 laps left. He came back and had another tire go down before hitting the wall. That second incident sent him to the garage. He placed 41st. … Carl Edwards was in top five when contact with Kasey Kahne sent Kahne into the wall. Kahne bounced into Edwards in Turn 1, causing Edwards to spin. Kahne continued, Edwards went to the garage. Edwards took the blame for triggering the incident. Edwards finished 42nd. Kahne was 17th.

Quote of the day: “That was a poorly executed race on my behalf,” Joey Logano said after placing 10th. “I didn’t do a good job. I did a good job of screwing up anytime I could. The speeding on pit road – I found that. I put us in a hole. Not that we were going to win the race either way because we weren’t fast enough but I maybe cost us two or three positions with what I did.”

Notables: Tony Stewart again struggled and was never a factor throughout the race, finishing 33rd. … Jeff Gordon fought back from starting in the rear with his backup car but had more bad luck. Gordon damaged the nose of his car when he ran into the back of Jeb Burton’s car. Still, Gordon finished a season-high 18th.

Post-race inspection: NASCAR announced that the No. 51 car of Justin Allgaier (finished 31st) came across the scales after the race too light. NASCAR found some weight on the track and will check to see if it came from Allgaier’s car.

What’s next: The series heads to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend. Kevin Harvick swept both races there last year.

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