AVONDALE, Ariz. -- With a chance to all but lock himself into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards possibly would have gotten the benefit of the doubt if he had knocked Kevin Harvick out of contention on the final lap for the win on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.
But Edwards didn't send Harvick spinning. Edwards instead just tried to give Harvick a good enough shove so he could get by and beat Harvick to the finish line.
Edwards' shove allowed him to get by ... briefly. But it didn't allow him to win the Good Sam 500.
In retrospect, maybe he should have nailed Harvick a little harder. But then again, paybacks are no fun.
Just ask Joey Logano.
So Edwards raced Harvick relatively hard but relatively clean to the finish. He shoved him out of the way, then Harvick slammed Edwards in his door, and Edwards returned the favor. Harvick edged Edwards by inches for the victory.
"I don't think there's any real love lost between the two of us," Harvick said. "I knew that I was going to get hit, and I'm going to hit him in the same type of manner, just for the fact that I don't want to spin him out.
"But you definitely want to rough him up, because that's not the guy that I want to lose to, and I know he doesn't want to lose to me."
The Harvick-Edwards animosity dates back several years. In 2010 after Edwards and Brad Keselowski had their issues, Harvick called Edwards fake, and then Edwards unloaded his thoughts on Harvick.
"I have absolutely no respect for Kevin Harvick," Edwards said in March 2010. "I think he's a bad person. That's my opinion. I've told him. We've had our deal before and his actions through that interaction were so devious and underhanded and cowardly that, it's like, I just have no respect for him."
So there's the no-love-lost factor that Harvick talks about, although Harvick and Edwards have not really gotten into it on the track in recent years. And yet Edwards didn't punt Harvick because he said he felt Harvick had earned that position.
After the race, Edwards went over to Harvick as Harvick drove to Victory Lane.
"I would have done the same thing and really, after the race, that's exactly what we said to each other," Harvick said. "That's really what NASCAR racing is all about.
"You're coming to the checkered flag and he wants to win for his team and I want to win for my team, and there's a lot on the line. It's definitely the way that things should have been done. "
Edwards appeared to agree, even though he came out on the short end of the photo finish.
"Everybody works hard here, and if we would've had one more lap, I could have passed him clean," Edwards said. "But it just wasn't going to work without bumping him.
"So I decided to hit him as hard as I did. I really didn't want to wreck him, but I thought I moved him enough to get by. But that's just racing."
Xfinity Series: How do you beat Joe Gibbs Racing?
For the second consecutive week, Kyle Busch didn't just win an Xfinity Series race. He won an Xfinity Series race where Joe Gibbs Racing drivers went 1-2-3.
The drivers who are following the JGR bunch on the track can't point to a specific area where JGR is beating them. They follow them on the track, so what do they see?
"I can just see them getting smaller [in front of me]," said Richard Childress Racing's Ty Dillon, who is third in points after his sixth-place finish at Phoenix. "I think it's just the whole package. They're beating us all the way around."
JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier enjoyed his best day of the season with a fourth at Phoenix and had that "best in class" feeling after following Busch, Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez across the finish line.
"They were able to get in the corner a little deeper, roll the center a little faster and get back on the gas a little earlier," Allgaier said. "The unfortunate part about this style of racing is that any little tiny bit just compounds over the course of the lap."
Jones said the setups are similar but also tailored slightly for each driver. Busch said he took some of what worked for Jones in practice and it improved his car -- and then was able to tweak that to his style of driving.
"The speed that they run and the fact that they are all running the same speed pretty consistently shows me -- they have talented race car drivers over there, there is no questioning about that -- they've got something figured out that they can put in all three cars and have all three drivers drive," Allgaier said.
After the race this coming weekend at Auto Club Speedway in California, teams will have two weeks to prepare for their next race at Texas, thanks to the Easter break and then no Xfinity race at Martinsville. Both Dillon and Allgaier said their teams are working to improve their cars.
"I wouldn't say that they're not beatable," Allgaier said. "We learned some things today in the race that will help us moving forward. We will have to keep working on it, and hopefully we can catch them here in a couple of weeks.
"We're working on stuff in the shop. We're working on stuff with Chevrolet. Hopefully as we can start putting it in the race cars and keep science-ing it out; that will definitely help."