Don’t forget Harvick on accolades
• Instead of a down-to-the-wire slugfest between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth to decide the Sprint Cup championship, the storyline heading into next weekend’s finale at Homestead, Fla., now will be more about Johnson staying out of trouble to preserve his lead. At least part of the story also should be the remarkable run by Kevin Harvick and his No.29 Richard Childress Racing team to stay within sight of the title despite Harvick announcing during February that he was leaving the organization at season’s end.
• Many will look at Sunday’s bad race for Kenseth and try to compare it to the disappointing day fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin had in this race during 2010. But the only real similarity is the track. Hamlin entered that race and left it as the points leader – he didn’t lose the championship, just part of his lead. Kenseth trailed Johnson in the standings coming into this race and might have lost the opportunity to win the title at Homestead. The point remains, however, that Hamlin entered the final race of 2010 with the championship to lose.
• While Phoenix International Raceway has reduced its seating capacity during recent years, that the track still sold out its 51,000 grandstand seats was impressive, as was the championship-like atmosphere that surrounded Sunday’s race. If the track could upgrade some facilities – which it would like to do – it would make an excellent location to host the season finale.
“We’re heading into Homestead in the position we want to be in,” Johnson said. “I’ll have to go down there and run 400 miles. It’s far from over.”
“Everyone was able to put just enough gas in the cars to make it to the end, and our guys got it right and the other guys were a little short,” Harvick said.
“We stayed out one time and then we had to pit under green and then coming to the end of the race I had to start saving fuel to make it,” he said.
“We’ll try to finish off strong at Homestead with another top-five and maybe prepare a little better for next year and try to have a little more consistent, stronger year from start to finish,” Kahne said.
Five key moments