Road to the Championship in Nextel Cup

The Spin: The Chase
By Kevin Carver

Ten races remained to decide the 2006 Nextel Cup Championship and round one went completely to Kevin Harvick on Sunday afternoon. What’s funny, is that I was on AM 590 WCAB as the halftime guest during their game of the week on Friday night and I never mentioned Harvick’s name. I had Harvick to win at Richmond, but maybe I am underestimating the hottest driver in the series right now as a championship contender. For doing both of those this weekend…..I apologize to Kevin Harvick and his team. The reality is…Kevin Harvick is capable of winning his first Nextel Cup Championship this year.
Now that Kevin Harvick has won two races in a row, he sure propelled himself as the man on the inside track of a championship run. However, “The Chase for the Championship,” still has nine races to go and Harvick’s most dreaded track on the circuit comes up this weekend in Dover. Although, Kevin would rather talk about winning Sunday’s Sylvania 300 instead. “It is really awesome to be able to capitalize on the race car we had this weekend. To sit on the pole and run as well as it did from the time we unloaded it, is something that’s hard to do,” claimed Harvick.

Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson has come so close to winning the Nextel Cup crown for the last four years. For the moment, Johnson better hope that all 10 guys left in the championship hunt use a mulligan since he just collected his on Sunday. The problems started when Jimmie had a miss in the engine early on and then gets involved in a wreck that had nothing to do with him at all. Johnson, who drives the No.48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo was the man I picked back in February to win the championship and now he sits 139 points behind of the leader to start “The Chase. “I hope I don’t eat the words I said early on when I said you can’t win the championship here in New Hampshire but you can lose it today,” Johnson said after crashing on lap 89.
Johnson’s teammate Kyle Busch got the rough end of the deal as well in Loudon. Kyle wrecks at lap four of 300 with just minor damage and then takes a huge shot in turn three on lap 200. Rookie Clint Bowyer just got loose and Busch was just alongside for the ride at that point. “This car has never finished out of the top-10. It’s not a good way to start “The Chase” by wrecking not once, but twice, stated Busch. That moves Kyle from fourth to tenth now in the standings.

So, who do I like this week at Dover’s “Monster Mile.” Kevin Harvick has been on a roll lately and his teammate Jeff Burton should win anytime now. I think Harvick will play more conservative this weekend, but Burton is going to go all out in the Dover 400. I feel that Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne are all going to be strong. One driver to look as a possible winner for Sunday that is not a “Chase” contender is Greg Biffle. However, I am taking Kyle Busch to win Sunday’s race at the Dover International Speedway

Here are the updated points standings:
1)#29-Kevin Harvick 5230
2)#11-Denny Hamlin 5195 -35
3)#17-Matt Kenseth 5189 -41
4)#24-Jeff Gordon 5180 -50
5)#31-Jeff Burton 5166 -64
6)#6-Mark Martin 5155 -75
7)#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5149 -81
8)#9-Kasey Kahne 5120 -110
9)#48-Jimmie Johnson 5091 -139
10)#5-Kyle Busch 5084 -146

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