Long: 3 thoughts on Chicagoland race

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1 – Whoever you want to blame for the contact between Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick that led to Harvick crashing, and however you want to describe Harvick’s actions in the motorhome lot toward Johnson afterward, understand this: Before panic sets in about Harvick’s situation, he finished third at New Hampshire and second at Dover earlier this season. Those are the next two races in the opening round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Just as Harvick needed a win at Phoenix last year to make it to the final round – and win the championship – he likely faces a must-win situation the next two weeks. If he and his team can shed Sunday’s frustration and focus on what they have to do the next two weeks, there’s a chance of advancing. Of course, wouldn’t it be something if it came down to Dover and Harvick and Johnson were racing for the victory with Harvick needing to win to advance?

2 – Something to think about for those who question that the Chase makes the first 26 races all but irrelevant in the championship race: Kevin Harvick had two wins and 10 runner-up finishes in the regular season. With three bonus points for each win,  imagine if Harvick had won four or five of those races? That would be 12 or 15 more points he’d have. Recall that if AJ Allmendinger had three more points in the opening round last year, he would have advanced and Kasey Kahne would have been eliminated. This is where those runner-up finishes could haunt Harvick if he can’t win one of the next two races.

3 – You can’t get rid of Ryan Newman that easily. He was 14th on the final restart and found the right lane to work his way to fourth. Despite being winless, Newman knows how to put himself in position for a strong finish. He did the same thing last year and nearly won the championship. Is this the start of something big for Newman?