Sports

NASCAR defending champion Kevin Harvick grabs 1st win of the season at Las Vegas

  • Kevin Harvick celebrates in victory lane after winning the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

    Kevin Harvick celebrates in victory lane after winning the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)  (The Associated Press)

  • Kevin Harvick celebrates in victory lane after winning the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

    Kevin Harvick celebrates in victory lane after winning the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)  (The Associated Press)

  • Kevin Harvick performs a burnout after winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

    Kevin Harvick performs a burnout after winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)  (The Associated Press)

Defending NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick raced to his first victory of the season Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The win came in just the third race of the season, and Harvick has been inching toward victory lane since he began his title defense. He finished second in the season-opening Daytona 500 and was second last week at Atlanta.

Now he has a win that gives him a near-certain berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Next up? A stop at Phoenix, where Harvick has won four of the last five races. His November win pushed him into the championship race.

Harvick led 142 of the 267 laps, and beat Martin Truex Jr. to the finish.