The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

March 3, 2014

5 things to know about the Phoenix NASCAR race

(Continued)

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.

He had to spend the last half of the weekend without his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, who left the desert to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

Keselowski did just fine with team engineer Brian Wilson and its Nationwide Series competition director Greg Erwin at the helm, running near the front all day to finish third.

"They did a great job," Keselowski said. "Still had two spots to go, but all things considered I thought they did really well. I was very proud of the effort."

LOGANO'S GAMBLE: Joey Logano started on the front row next to Keselowski and stayed up front most of the day. He was running third on the final restart and tried to dive down to the inside for a pass, but didn't have enough pace to pull the move off and ended up losing a spot, to fourth.

"It's all about the win, right?" Logano said. "Really, third place doesn't mean anything. Last year, you may have taken third place and taken the points. This year, hey, go for it."

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