NASCAR: Happy to have Kevin Harvick

Creating buzz by dominating Chase, leaving Johnson in dust

August 04, 2010|By George Diaz, Tribune newspapers

His dominance has been infuriating.

He is clearly the hottest driver on the track.

Can NASCAR find another man to match his brilliance?

Catch him if you can, Kevin Harvick says.

Finally, there is a storyline about driver dominance in NASCAR that doesn't include the words " Jimmie Johnson, Jimmie Johnson, Jimmie Johnson."

Unless you are on the 48 team or a member of Hendrick Motorsports, this is a refreshing change of pace in a sport that desperately needs a jolt of competitive adrenaline, or at the very least a storyline that doesn't involve Johnson.

Happy Harvick in his No. 29 Pennzoil-sponsored Chevrolet is cruising with only four races remaining before the final cut for the Chase at Richmond on Sept. 11. Harvick has a 189-point lead over Jeff Gordon and a 260-point margin over third-place Denny Hamlin.

Harvick had another strong run at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, recovering from a first-lap wall tap to finish fourth, his fifth Top 5 in the last six races. Harvick now has 10 top-5 and 15 top-10 finishes this season. Both are best in the Sprint Cup series.

"Yeah, it has been a great year," he said. "We keep knocking top fives off and that's what we have to keep doing in the Chase."

Harvick never led a lap in the race after qualifying 14th, reflecting his steady ride this season.

"It was a long day," Harvick said. "I got into the wall on the first lap there and we fought a little bit tight. But all in all they did a great job."

Pocono is a noted pit stop for other reasons. Harvick and Joey Logano had a dustup in an earlier race there this season, prompting Logano to drop the best sarcastic line of the season.

"His wife wears the fire suit in the family and tells him what to do, so it's probably not his fault," Logano said, referring to DeLana Harvick.

Harvick turned it into a marketable/charitable opportunity by selling T-shirts that read "I wear the fire suit in this family" in red with Harvick's "Happy" red logo underneath. All proceeds benefit the Kevin Harvick Foundation.

"It's kind of agreeing with what I said, so I think it's kind of funny," Logano told reporters.

Don't chuckle too hard. Harvick could be selling a lot more merchandise — celebrating a Sprint Cup title — if he keeps rolling.

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