NASCAR: Is Harvick the one to beat today at Michigan?

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Kevin Harvick has possessed stellar pace throughout the first half of the Sprint Cup season, but as we know, he hasn’t always been able to convert that speed into wins.

Sure, he’s got two wins from Phoenix and Darlington. But looking back on the year so far, Harvick should be leading the series in victories outright instead of being tied with Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jimmie Johnson.

The list of things that have derailed Harvick this year is a diverse one. Everything from broken wheel hubs and flat tires to engine failures and pit road woes have struck his No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet while it’s been in position to win.

He’ll roll off from the pole position today at Michigan International Speedway, and once again, speed should not be a problem. His pole lap was the fastest such lap in Sprint Cup since Bill Elliott’s 212.8 mph blitz at Talladega in 1987 (which came without a restrictor plate).

But Michigan’s high speeds means engine stress – and that means Harvick could fall prey to yet another equipment failure.

Still, he is making sure not to ponder those issues.

“Next week is a new challenge and a different style race track and a lot of different things come with it,” he said after winning the pole on Friday.

“So, I think the experience of myself and everybody on the team are – we’ve been tested [as to] whether we can do that or not this year, but I think everybody has proven week-in and week-out when we unload, usually every week, for the first practice the car is fast and we just keep plugging away.”

But there’s no doubt that Harvick and SHR would like to get those problems under control as they play out the remainder of the regular season before entering the Chase this fall.

Today’s race at Michigan would be a good place to start.

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”