Kevin Harvick’s hopes for capturing a second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship took a “spin” for the worst during last Sunday’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener at Chicagoland Speedway.
Following contact from Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 car, Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet developed a left-rear tire rub, eventually causing Harvick to spin directly into the wall. As a result, Harvick finished 42nd and is 15th on the Chase Grid, 22 points below the final transfer spot.
Virtually in too deep of a hole to advance from the 16-driver Challenger Round to the 12-man Contender Round on points, Harvick knows what he needs to survive and advance.
“We’ve just got to go win one of these races,” said Harvick, referring to the final two events of the Challenger Round, at New Hampshire and Dover.
His task – easier said than done – begins with Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), a place he has only won once in his career (fall 2006).
“Loudon (N.H.) is tough just because the track position is so important there,” Harvick said. “It’s really hard to pass. It always seems like there is some kind of crazy strategy that plays out toward the end of the race with fuel mileage or something along those lines of when you pit, when you don’t pit. Restarts always play a big factor but, at Loudon, there is definitely going to be a lot of strategy involved.”
Harvick and Johnson's on-track tangle led to a heated off-track confrontation between the two series champions, one that could again play out on the racing surface over the next two races -- especially at Dover next week. Johnson and Harvick finished 1-2 there in the May race.