Wednesday, September 28, 2011
For Harvick, last weekend's race was no gas
Despite a 12th-place finish Sunday at New Hampshire, where fuel mileage again played havoc with the Chase field, Kevin Harvick heads into this weekend second in points.
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Kevin Harvick said he worried he would be further behind in the points standings after having to pit an extra time for fuel in Sunday's race at New Hampshire and finishing 12th.
Instead, Harvick heads into this weekend's race at Dover International Speedway seven points behind series leader Tony Stewart, who has won the opening two races of NASCAR's title Chase.
All Harvick knew during Sunday's race was that his team was not getting as good fuel mileage as many other drivers and he had to stop an extra time for fuel to make it to the end of the 300-lap race.
"It's been great all year," Harvick said of the team's fuel mileage, which helped him win the Coca-Cola 600 this season. "For whatever reason, it was a little bit off last week. I wasn't real happy about having to come in when everybody I had been racing with all day [didn't need to stop], and then you have guys that you hadn't seen all day wind up in front of you on a restart and then you're back there in a cluster.
"After I got ... to the shop on Monday and saw all the scenarios that played out, we were lucky we finished 12th."
Hamlin having Chase struggles
After finishing 35th at Michigan last month, Denny Hamlin noted his team's struggles and said his communication with crew chief Mike Ford has not been particularly good.
Hamlin went on to say after that race, "Who knows. Maybe missing the Chase would be the best thing for us for next year."
A month later, Hamlin's title hopes are all but over after a loose wheel and then a cut tire set him back at Chicago and after he ran out of fuel at the end of the race at New Hampshire. So are things still good between Hamlin and Ford?
"I feel like better than what we were a month ago," Hamlin said. "We went into that Chase after that Michigan fiasco with three consecutive top-10s, starting to be more competitive.
"We finished bad the first Chase race for different reasons. We had cut tires. I can't help those things. Mike can't help those things. This week, we ran out of gas. It's just one of those years where we just can't get some momentum going and get it rolling. I just hope that we get it by the end of the season so that we start 2012 with a little bit of momentum."
Kenseth's wife injured
Matt Kenseth's wife, Katie, suffered a broken shoulder blade in an wreck Monday while practicing for an upcoming Bandolero race at Charlotte Motor Speedway that will feature the wives and girlfriends of NASCAR drivers. The charity race is scheduled to take place before the Oct.15 Cup race at the track.
"When she crashed, I was over 90percent sure she was hurt because I've never seen a little car like that crash that hard," Matt Kenseth said. "I was really happy that the car [spun] around backwards because I had that sick feeling in my gut when it was going head-on in there that she was going to be hurt really bad."
Tony Stewart's victory Sunday at New Hampshire was not only his second of the year, but it also marked the 12th time in his 13-year career that he's won two or more races in a season. ... The points leader after the second Chase race has never won the title since the Chase's inception in 2004. Stewart leads the points.