Three-peat! Kevin Harvick wins third NASCAR Cup race in a row at Phoenix

Kevin Harvick became the first NASCAR Cup driver since 2015 to win three races in a row when he took the checkered flag on Sunday at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix.

The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Ford driver held off Kyle Busch for his ninth win at the track and 40th in his NASCAR Cup career.

The win comes just days after Harvick and his team were penalized points and fined following last weekend’s win at Las Vegas for finishing the race with a broken rear window brace.

Harvick celebrated the Phoenix win by patting the rear window.

"I've been mad as all get out because this team does a great job," Harvick said. "This organization does a great job and we've got fast race cars. And to take that away from those guys just really (ticked) me off last week.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) on lap 121 during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race on Sunday, March 11, 2018, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

 (AP)

"To come here to a race track that is so good for us is a lot of fun and everyone was just determined this week, and we just wanted to just go stomp them. We didn't stomp them, but we won. That's all that really matters. Just proud of this team. Put a fire in our belly."

The last driver to pull off a three-peat was Joey Logano three seasons ago.

Harvick got in front of Busch on the last series of pit stops on the mile oval. Busch's team dropped the jack and had trouble with the right rear tire on his stop with 53 laps left, allowing Harvick — who pitted three laps earlier — to slip ahead en route to his 40th Cup victory.

Harvick took the lead with 22 laps left when Ryan Newman finally made his last stop on the sunny afternoon after morning rain. Busch finished 0.774 seconds back.

Chase Elliott was third, followed by Denny Hamlin, pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Eric Jones and Kurt Busch.

Harvick broke a tie with Busch with 14 NASCAR national-series victories at the track, also winning an Xfinity event and four Truck races. In 31 Cup starts in Phoenix, the California driver has 15 top-five finishes.

Harvick was extra motivated following the NASCAR penalties from Las Vegas.

"Actions speak louder than any words I can come up with," Harvick said.

NASCAR said Wednesday that inspectors at its research and development center in North Carolina found the Ford violated a rule requiring rear window support braces holding the glass rigid, and another requiring the right rocker panel extension to be aluminum. Harvick was penalized the seven playoff points he earned for winning the Las Vegas race and the first two stages. He was docked 20 regular points and the team lost 20 owners' points. Crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $50,000, and car chief Robert Smith suspended two races.

Harvick regained the points lead Saturday, moving 12 ahead of Busch.

Kyle Busch won the first 75-lap stage, and brother Kurt Busch took the second in a one-lap shootout after a caution period.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.