Kevin Harvick untouchable at PIR

"There has been a lot of skepticism through the offseason," Harvick admitted. "But all in all, Gene Haas has given us every resource you can imagine, and he and Tony have been very supportive of what we want to do. The sky is the limit for this team. Everybody is still trying to learn each other's names, let alone what's going on with the race car.

"Gene says the enthusiasm is contagious at SHR," he added. "You're only as good as the people around you, and I'm honored to drive that car into Victory Lane."

There was potential for it to be an even better day for Stewart-Haas, because Stewart and Kurt Busch were running in the top 10 late in the race. But Busch blew a motor and Stewart faded to a 16th-place finish.

Danica Patrick spun several times and finished 36th.

"That's pretty cool -- just awesome," Stewart said of Harvick's victory. "Kevin had the best car yesterday in practice so I'm glad to see those guys finish it off today.

"You never how it's going to be, for sure," he added. "The one thing is Kevin had a lot of confidence in Rodney. I didn't know Rodney that well, but Kevin is pretty keen about all aspects of this. He's been real confident all winter, and today it showed. They've been working hard."

Childers, who joined SHR this year after a long stint with Michael Waltrip Racing, was elated to score a win so early in the season.

"It's all been great so far," Childers said. "I'm fortunate that Kevin and Zippy [Stewart-Haas competition director Greg Zipadelli] and Smoke believed in me. I haven't been told 'no' to anything yet. Maybe that will change when some bills come in, but it has been rewarding to work on such fast race cars.

"It's hard to stay on top and keep your cars in a competitive mode," Childers continued. "We just need to keep working hard and hopefully maintain that advantage. We've got a lot of learning to do, and a lot of growing to do. But this has given me confidence that we can do this and we will. You feed off that. We've got to keep making ourselves better. We made too many mistakes this weekend, and fortunately we were able to overcome that."

Meanwhile, Earnhardt was competitive all weekend and backed up his Daytona 500 win with a strong second-place finish. He holds an early lead in the Sprint Cup point standings over Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon, with Harvick fourth.

***

***

By winning the first two races of the season, Earnhardt and Harvick almost certainly have already qualified for NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup postseason that starts in mid-September.

"Some teams and drivers have struggled with the new package and the new rules, but I'm glad the performance is there for us," Earnhardt remarked. "Hopefully we can maintain it.

"I think our Chase performance [in 2013] got us pretty confident and made us happy to look forward to this season," Earnhardt continued. "It's hard to take a lot away from two races; it's such a long season and so many things could happen. We just have to work harder than everybody else."

Earnhardt and the No. 88 team fell just short in their quest for a second straight race win, but he still came away from Phoenix happy and confident.

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