NASCAR points observations through eight races

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It took another post-Green-White-Checkered pass to pull it off, but Kevin Harvick got around Dale Earnhardt Jr. and earned his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season Saturday night in Darlington. So ends the string of different winners in as many races, but it was a needed result for Harvick after a string of bad luck in the races since his Phoenix win, back in February.

Here’s the rest of where things stand, points-wise, after the eighth regular season race of 2014:

MORE THAN HALF OF THE 16 ALREADY SEEM SET

Your seven race winners – Earnhardt Jr., Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Joey Logano – plus points leaders Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth have been the class of the field thus far. Harvick is the lowest ranked driver in that group in P22 in the standings, but he’ll be fine going forward. Jimmie Johnson, P5 in points, is going to get his first win soon as well.

THE NEXT TIER OF EIGHT FROM P9-16 LOOK GOOD, NOT GREAT

From Ryan Newman in ninth down to Clint Bowyer in 16th, this group of eight drivers are running well but haven’t necessarily gotten the ultimate finish needed yet for their seasons. Other than Kyle Larson’s near win at Auto Club Speedway a few weeks ago, none of the eight in this group has challenged for a win.

SOME COMBO OF LUCK OR PERFORMANCE TURNAROUND NEEDED

Jamie McMurray (P20), Kasey Kahne (P23) and Martin Truex Jr. (P28) are probably the biggest names in this batch without a win or major result to speak of. McMurray ran well earlier this year as he and new crew chief Keith Rodden gelled, but he’s been outside the top 15 the last three races. Truex has only one top 15 finish all season.

POINTS: Through 8 of 26 races.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).