Harvick in command just past halfway in championship-deciding Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead

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Kevin Harvick is just past halfway to his first Sprint Cup championship, leading the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

With 139 of 267 laps completed, Harvick is in first, followed by pole-sitter Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano is third, Denny Hamlin fourth, Jimmie Johnson fifth and the final of the four championship finalists, Ryan Newman, in sixth.

Gordon has been in control of most of the event, leading 107 of the first 139 laps, while Harvick led 28 at this point.

Non-Chasers or eliminated former Chasers who have been having a strong run in the season finale include Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch among the top-15 drivers.

There have been only a few caution periods, mostly for debris. Although Alex Bowman tangled about one-third of the way through with Carl Edwards, both drivers sustaining minor damage to their cars.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment thus far is that of Kyle Busch, who apparently broke a gear or possibly the transmission in his Toyota.

Busch was running fifth at the time of the mishap, apparently caused when he spun his wheels while trying to exit his pit stall after a service stop.

Busch is scored last in the 43-car field and his car is in the garage, his day most likely over.

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Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.