No more room for er­ror

Har­vick, Logano teeter on the edge fol­low­ing mis­steps

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - On auto rac­ing

NASCAR’s trav­el­ing road show col­lects and throws out Chase post­sea­son con­tes­tants weekly and in­dis­crim­i­nately.

Tag, Kevin Har­vick. You’re it.

The 2014 Cup cham­pion is in a pre­car­i­ous pickle — along with an­other Cup stal­wart, Joey Logano — after hav­ing tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties at Char­lotte on Sun­day in the weath­erde­layed Bank of Amer­ica 500.

Har­vick lost power in his No. 4 Chevy and fin- ished just 155 laps. Logano bumped the wall along Turn 2, re­sult­ing in ex­ten­sive dam­age to his Ford. Logano fin­ished 80 laps be­hind race win­ner Jim­mie John­son. The in­ci­dent also dam­aged the hopes of Logano’s cham­pi­onship as­pi­ra­tions.

Logano is six points be­hind the cut­off slot with two races to go in the sec­ond round, and Har­vick is eight points out. They ob­vi­ously have some catch­ing up to do be­fore the field of 12 gets whit­tled down to eight after Tal­ladega in two weeks.

“I hate it for ev­ery­body on our Busch team. They made some great ad­just­ments to­day and got our car back where we needed to be to run up front and ev­ery­thing was go­ing fine,” Har­vick said after the fail­ure on Sun­day. “Lots of things can go wrong, and to­day they did.”

It was a dou­ble whammy be­cause Har­vick had a solid car and had grabbed the pole.

But such is the deal ev­ery­one makes with the Chase devil. One bad twist or turn, and can be over in a heart­beat. The good news for Har­vick and Logano is that they have Kansas and Tal­ladega com­ing up. A vic­tory in ei­ther place locks them into the elite eight.

Har­vick has a vic­tory at both tracks, most re­cently win­ning in Kansas in the fall of 2013.

He also knows how to get it done un­der dire cir­cum­stances, scor­ing a must-win at Dover last year to ad­vance in the Chase. He did the same this year by win­ning at New Hamp­shire.

But Tal­ladega and its re­stric­tor-plate may­hem is al­ways a more dicey beast than most other tracks. You’re cruis­ing along at top speed on one lap, flying through the air on the other. Kansas offers the most vi­able op­tion when it comes to pre­dictabil­ity.

Logano, one of the most dom­i­nant driv­ers in 2015 with six vic­to­ries and a win­ner at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speedway this sea­son, is also in a bind.

But he’s been a cool cat when things are tough. He won three straight races in last year’s Chase, start­ing with the race at Char­lotte, be­fore Matt Kenseth in­ten­tion­ally wrecked him at Martinsville in their in­fa­mous tit-for-tat pay­back deal.

As for now … cue op­ti­mism.

“We’re not out by any means,” Logano said. “Things hap­pen. It’s part of rac­ing, but we’re not out. We’re not gonna die. This team is re­silient. We just have to have two flaw­less races. It’s some­thing we can make up.”

Tick, tick. No time to waste. On to Kansas we go.

CHUCK BUR­TON/AP

Kevin Har­vick fin­ished only 155 laps Sun­day in Char­lotte, quickly putting his Chase for the Sprint Cup hopes in jeop­ardy.

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