AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Matt Kenseth used a terrific final restart Saturday to hold off Kevin Harvick at Phoenix International Raceway, spoiling Harvick’s bid to break Sam Ard’s record of Busch Series wins in a season.

Ard won 10 races in 1983 and Harvick, a nine-time winner this season who has already wrapped up the Busch title, had hoped to use wins in the final two events this year to break the mark.

Now the best he can do is win in next week’s finale to tie Ard after finishing second to Kenseth in Phoenix.

But he wasn’t concerned about the record after the race, instead focusing on the final restart, which he believed Kenseth jumped.

“If that had been us, we would have been sitting on pit road (under penalty),” Harvick said. “That’s pretty bad.”

Kenseth maintained his start – which came during a two-lap overtime shootout after the 11th and final caution- was clean.

“It’s all whose shoes you are wearing,” Kenseth said. “In the driver’s meeting every week, they say start in a vicinity of the line, which is a couple car lengths as I take it. I thought I was in a car length or two of the line.”

All that activity was way in front of Indianapolis 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya and Sam Hornish Jr., who had rough days in the desert.

Montoya, the former Formula One driver making a full-time switch to NASCAR, wound up 20th in his third Busch race.

Hornish, the reigning IndyCar Series champion who is giving NASCAR a tryout, was 36th and failed to finish his debut. “I never said this was going to be easy,” Hornish said. “We missed on the setup and didn’t have it right from the beginning. I learned a lot of little things, like what the car needs on the long run to be able to go fast.”

Hornish was two laps down late in the race when he was collateral damage in someone else’s accident. Willie Allen and Stephen Leicht made contact racing for position, sending both cars into a spin. Hornish was coming along behind them and couldn’t avoid running into Allen, causing enough damage to end his race 20 laps from the finish.

“This was the first race where I wasn’t able to see my wheels,” he said. “There were so many things going on, it’s tough to pick up too many things. It’s unfortunate the day ended the way it did.

“If I thought this was going to be easy, I wouldn’t have tried it.”

Montoya, meanwhile, was frustrated with his finish because of the lack of give and take at the back of the Busch field.

He bounced off the wall during the incident that collected Hornish, and had several other bumps as he struggled to get much leeway on the track.

“It’s tough passing these guys – they seem like they don’t see you, they just sort of play dumb,” he said. “When you run up front, the guy up front runs a lot cleaner, a lot smarter. The guys in the back are just too dumb. I’m trying to keep the car in one piece and its very hard, because, yes, I am a rookie – but no, I am not a rookie.

“I have probably more experience in this grade, I’ve driven more things than anybody here. I am being smart, I am trying not to cause any wrecks or anything, but it’s got to stop.”

It’s not clear if Montoya will make his Nextel Cup debut next week in Homestead, Fla., as many believed he would. Although a car has been submitted for him on the entry list, he said consecutive struggles at Texas and now Phoenix have left things in flux.

“At the moment it’s just Busch,” he said. “If everything goes right, maybe. But at the moment just Busch.”

AP-ES-11-11-06 1917EST


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