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.

INDYCAR: Josef Newgarden quickest again in second practice at Road America

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Josef Newgarden continued to be quickest around Road America, first this morning and again this afternoon in the second practice session for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix.

Newgarden had a best lap in the second session of 1:42.6279, followed by rookie Robert Wickens (1:42.9025), Sebastien Bourdais (1:43.0020), Will Power (1:43.0545) and teammate Simon Pagenaud (1:43.1599).

Sixth through 10th were Graham Rahal (1:43.1995), Scott Dixon (1:43.4212), Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:43.4755), Takuma Sato (1:43.5410) and Marco Andretti (1:43.6221).

One significant incident of note occurred during the session when Alfonso Celis Jr., making his IndyCar debut this weekend, lost control coming out of a turn and slammed into the tire wall, causing damage to his suspension.

The third and final practice session of the weekend will be Saturday at Noon E.T., followed by qualifying later in the afternoon.

The race will take the green flag on Sunday shortly after 1 p.m. ET. It will be televised live on NBCSN.

Follow @JerryBonkowski