Kevin Harvick facing long climb from 33rd on grid Sunday at Martinsville

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At this point of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, even the smallest setbacks can have major consequences.

On Friday, Kevin Harvick may have suffered a big setback.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was the slowest of the eight remaining Chasers in today’s lone Cup practice at Martinsville Speedway. Then later on in qualifying, he scraped the wall twice in the first round and wound up qualifying a dismal 33rd on the grid for Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 – the opener for the Eliminator Round of the Chase.

Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press tweeted Harvick’s reaction afterwards:

On the bright side, a victory at Martinsville has been achieved from farther back. In the fall of 2002, Harvick’s current teammate Kurt Busch won from 36th.

But less than five percent of Martinsville victories – that’s six in 131 races – have come from outside the Top 20. All seven of his Chase rivals will be starting within the Top 13 on Sunday.

Tomorrow now becomes critical for Harvick, as he’ll have two practice sessions (9-9:50 a.m. ET, 12 Noon-12:50 p.m. ET) to find a strong race pace on the No. 4 Chevrolet.

With where he’ll be to start on Sunday, he cannot afford to struggle off the bat and be lapped early at the half-mile Virginia oval.

Harvick must also now avoid the fate of another big name that didn’t get a good start to the previous Contender Round. USA Today writer and NASCAR on NBC contributor Nate Ryan makes a note:

As you know, things seemed to snowball against Johnson following his poor qualifying run in the Heartland. Harvick can’t let that happen to him.

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”