Rough Day for Chase Contenders

Kevin Harvick

Harvick dropped three spots in the standings to fifth after the contact. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

TALLADEGA, Ala. - Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch all took a serious hit to their Chase hopes in Sunday’s Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

All three drivers were involved in accidents in the final restrictor plate race of the season and fell spots in the championship standings.

Harvick and Busch were both involved in the same incident, a multi-car accident just past the halfway mark that broke out on the frontstretch.

Richard Petty Motorsports teammates Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmedinger made contact to set off a chain reaction crash that saw Harvick’s Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota significantly damaged.

Harvick went to pit road for several stops in hopes his crew could fix the battered car, but after making repairs and going back on track his car developed an oil leak to seal his fate.

"It is a little bit frustrating,” said Harvick who came into the race in second place only five behind Carl Edwards in the standings but dropped to fifth and 26 out after his 32nd-place finish. “You do what you think is right at this particular race track and you hope for the best. We had a lot of great runs in the weeks leading up to this and I guess the odds were against us coming into this one."

With four races to go the odds are stacked against Harvick climbing back in the championship race but he remained optimistic.

“Yes, but obviously that wasn't the day we wanted,” Harvick said. “But, but the way the rest of those guys raced, it didn't devastate us. We wanted to be in the front. We thought that was the safer place to be in case the thing went green. I thought I was around a pretty good group of cars there. I don't know what happened. It is just one of those deals.”

Busch wound up finishing 33rd on the heels of his second-place run at Charlotte a week ago. The disappointing performance left him in sixth place and 40 points out of the lead.“There were a lot of repairs to be done -- all four corners of that car, the suspension and body were damaged,” said crew chief Dave Rogers. “We got out there in a timely fashion and picked up spots. It was a team improvement and I was pleased.”

Despite the day in Talladega, Rogers refuses to throw in the towel.

“The mindset doesn’t change,” Rogers said. “We sat down in December and we said, ‘We’re going to race every lap, every race as hard as we can and try to lead as many laps and win as many races as we can.’ That’s what it takes to win this championship. I don't know -- everyone asks that question, ‘How is the mindset? How is the mindset.’

“I’m a racer. I want to go to Martinsville and I want to sit on the pole, I want to lead every lap and I want to win the race. That was my mindset four hours ago and it’s going to be my mindset in six, seven days. We’re going to try to lead every lap and win every race from here on out and wherever that puts us in the points at the end of the year, we’ll take it.”

Kurt Busch saw his afternoon come to a crashing halt when he got swept up in an accident and had nowhere to go before slamming hard into Bobby Labonte.

The Shell/Pennzoil Dodge was destroyed and along with it most likely Busch’s chance at a second Sprint Cup title.

“We were doing good all day, running with Regan Smith, and just had nowhere to go,” said Busch who finished 36th and fell to 52 points behind Edwards in eighth place. “The 47 (Labonte) go flung by Michael Waltrip, he went low, we went high, and he was starting to come back up when I was zigging and zagging. Our championship hopes are done just because of this two-car Talladega draft.”

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