Long: Can Kevin Harvick repeat 2014 rally?


LOUDON, N.H. – It’s simple for Kevin Harvick. Win and he can pursue a second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Question is can he win?

Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway proved another disappointing setback for Harvick and his team, continuing a theme that has become as prevalent as his fast cars.

“At the end of the day all that matters is where you finished,’’ said Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing. “It’s not how you got there, or how good you ran all day, it’s how you finished.

“We’re just not executing to close the deal on wins.’’

Harvick finished 21st after leading 216 of 300 laps.

For the second time in the last seven races, Harvick ran out of fuel while leading. It happened on the last lap at Watkins Glen International in August. Sunday, he relinquished the lead with three laps to go, allowing Matt Kenseth to win.

Harvick didn’t talk to reporters after the race. Crew chief Rodney Childers later explained on Twitter that the team should have had enough fuel to make it to the end and suspected that either the team didn’t get the car full of fuel on its last stop or “the fuel cell bladder is coming apart.’’

Either way it’s another race that Harvick dominated and didn’t win.  He can’t afford to repeat this cycle next week. If so, the competitor feared as one of the toughest challengers for the championship could be out after the first round.

His problems in the Chase started last week at Chicagoland Speedway when contact with Jimmie Johnson caused a tire rub and led to Harvick crashing three laps later. Harvick finished 42nd, putting him in a situation that he likely needed to win at New Hampshire or Dover to advance.

It appeared as if Harvick would overcome that incident this weekend. He was fast in practice and qualifying and proved to be as strong in the race until the end.

“Some days it feels like everyone is against you, but that’s just what this sport is about,’’ Zipadelli said.

What makes one think that Harvick can overcome his misfortune in the Chase is that he’s done it before. He had to win at Phoenix last fall to advance to the championship round. He had to win at the season finale at Homestead to capture the title since Ryan Newman finished second that race.

“It’s not like you can’t do it, but you hate to continue to put yourself in that position,’’ Zipadelli said.

The last time the series raced at Dover, Harvick finished second, struggling on restarts late after an issue with the track bar. Another runner-up finish, which would be his 11th of the season, likely wouldn’t be enough unless Dale Earnhardt Jr., who holds the final transfer spot and leads Harvick by 23 points and Kyle Busch and Paul Menard (who both lead by Harvick by 22 points) also have issues. That’s asking a lot.

So, it’s win or get in for Harvick. Despite leading more than twice as many laps as any other driver this season, Harvick’s last win came six months ago at Phoenix.

So can he do it this weekend when he likely must?

“Things haven’t gone exactly to plan,’’ Harvick tweeted Sunday night, “but I promise you one thing ‘we will not quit.’ ‘’


NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told Frontstretch.com: “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.