Harvick looks for ‘Dega win that could knock out several Chase rivals


Kevin Harvick’s win last Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway allowed him to advance to the Chase’s Eliminator Round.

But as far as he’s concerned, his work in the current Contender Round – which ends this Sunday with the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway – is not yet over.

A second consecutive win for Harvick would potentially erase several of his biggest rivals for the Sprint Cup championship.

Going into Sunday, Brad Keselowski of Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are all effectively in win-or-bust situations.

Thus, Harvick is compelled to try and ensure their elimination by robbing them of the automatic advance that comes with a Chase victory.

After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a Chase without Keselowski, Johnson, and Dale Jr. means a better shot for Harvick to finally capture that elusive first Cup.

“Anytime you see people in a vulnerable position where they could not advance to the next round, from a competitor’s standpoint you want to do everything you can do to try and keep an upper hand,” said Harvick, the second driver to advance to the Eliminator Round after Joey Logano did it with his win at Kansas two weeks ago.

“Whatever your best shot is for your team is what you want to see happens. You may have some feelings one way or the other toward teams and drivers and different people, and you want to see different scenarios play out and the excitement that goes with it.

“But in the end, you want the best scenario for your team to win a championship from pure greed standpoint, I guess you could say. Really that’s what we’re here to do and that’s win the championship and you want the best scenario for your team.”

A ‘Dega win would also confirm that Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team have indeed captured the form necessary to contend for a title.

Their victory in the second race of the season at Phoenix allowed the team to work on jelling together as a unit. As the litany of bad breaks for them throughout the summer will tell you, the process has been far from perfect.

But is everything coming together for them at just the right moment? Harvick hopes that’s the case.

“Hopefully, you’re getting to a refined point that you think is where you need to be to race for a championship,” Harvick said. “Last week was kind of the beginning of that and hopefully, we can close out the last several weeks at the same level we had then.

“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. I think there is a huge sigh of relief in a way [by winning at Charlotte] but it’s also that this is what you want to do and expect to do at this time of year.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.