Har­vick hopes to con­tinue strong run at Char­lotte

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL SPORTS - Staff RE­PORT

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

Jim­mie John­son might hold the Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way record with seven wins, but lately Kevin Har­vick has been bet­ter there. In his last seven starts at the 1.5mile track, Har­vick has reg­is­tered two wins, three run­ner-ups and no show­ing worse than ninth.

The No. 4 Chevro­let driver will at­tempt to notch an­other Queen City vic­tory in Satur­day’s Bank of Amer­ica 500 at Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way (7 p.m. ET on NBC) – the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Round of 12 opener. Har­vick won the event in 2014, the last time it was run at night. Last year, he fin­ished se­cond to Joey Logano when the race was held in the day on Sun­day fol­low­ing a Satur­day night rain­out.

“I think Char­lotte, just be­cause of the fact we’ve had so much suc­cess there,” said Har­vick when asked what Round of 12 track he was most ex­cited to go to. “We’ve run well there re­ally ev­ery time we’ve been there with our Ste­wartHaas Racing cars. Go­ing there this week­end is def­i­nitely some­thing I’m look­ing for­ward to. Any race track where you’ve had some suc­cess at, you def­i­nitely want to go back.”

A win would earn Har­vick more than just a tro­phy, it would ad­vance him to the Chase’s Round of 8. The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries champion has vis­ited Vic­tory Lane at all three tracks in the Round of 12 – Char­lotte, Kansas and Tal­ladega — indi­cat­ing a third straight trip to the Round of 8 might be in­evitable.

“It’s nice to know that you can go to any of these race tracks and win be­cause we have,” Har­vick said. “They’re all hard to win at and I think as you look at Char­lotte, try­ing to put the car back in Vic­tory Lane is the first goal, and if you can’t, try to get the best fin­ish that you can. That comes with no mis­takes and if you do have a mis­take, over­come it and cap­i­tal­ize on the mo­ment if you have it to ac­tu­ally get to Vic­tory Lane.

De­spite his suc­cess at all three tracks, Har­vick is fo­cused on this week­end’s race. In 31 ca­reer starts at Char­lotte, in­clud­ing 15 in the fall, Har­vick boasts three wins, seven top-five and 14 top-10 fin­ishes.

“There could be chal­lenges no mat­ter where you go,” he said. “Char­lotte is a very finicky race track and with the way that we prac­tice, most of the prac­tice will be dur­ing the day with the race at night. So tem­per­a­ture has a huge fac­tor in how the race track chang- es and how they pace changes, so you have to try to guess a lit­tle bit to that. And ob­vi­ously the weather can be a lit­tle bit of an is­sue as we creep into the week­end. You have to try to plan and bal­ance all of those things to have a good plan, but you have to be ready to abort that plan and come up with a new one on the fly at any given point.”

Erik Jones tries to stave off elim­i­na­tion from XFINITY Chase

En­ter­ing the NASCAR XFINITY Se­ries Chase with a se­rieslead­ing four wins and the 12 bonus points that came with them, Erik Jones seemed like an ab­so­lute lock to make the play­offs’ Round of 8 if not the Cham­pi­onship 4.

He sure doesn’t look like a lock right now.

Jones goes into Fri­day’s Drive for the Cure 300 Chase cut­off race at Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN) four points below Bren­nan Poole on the cut­off line. If he can’t make up those points, he will be elim­i­nated from cham­pi­onship con­tention.

Jones dug him­self into his cur­rent predica­ment by fin­ish­ing 28th at Ken­tucky and 16th at Dover. In three ca­reer starts at Char­lotte, Jones has fin­ished 15th (spring 2015), se­cond (fall 2015) and 31st (spring 2016).

“We have a good team, we just have to do it right,” Jones said. “I know this 20 team builds fast cars and I know this week­end at Char­lotte will be no dif­fer­ent. We just need to go out and ex­e­cute and hope­fully get into the next round. A lot of work and a lot of pres­sure, but I think we can do it.”


The Bal­ti­more Ravens pro­moted tight end Daniel Brown to the 53-man ros­ter Wed­nes­day.

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