Kevin Harvick Finally Wins At Sonoma

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The 4-team has to breathing a lot easier this week… now that Kevin Harvick has that Sonoma win monkey off his back.

He led the second most laps (24) to Martin Truex, Jr (25) who had a mechanical failure that ended his day.

And if it’s true about winning in bunches, the rest of the field had better look out. Harvick isn’t known as “The Closer” for nothing.

Sure, Harvick jumped out to a pretty big lead in the race, but this race had green flag passes for the lead, plenty of side-by-side racing, gouging and rooting for position – everything NASCAR fans say they want in a race yet they hate road course races for some reason. And I sure hope the infield was full because the grandstands were pretty empty. I don’t get it. I love the two road course races as they are some of the best racing around these days.

With 10 races to go the playoff picture is heating up. Kasey Kahne did himself no favors by wrecking again. Danica Patrick had a good starting position and ran in the top 10 for a while until she and Dale Earnhardt, Jr got together and then her and Kyle Larson and then her and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. By that point she had hit everything but the pace car as they say. It’s really too bad since she had a great race going and was a victim of circumstances. Earnhardt went on to finish 6th while Patrick finished 17th.

Jimmie Johnson led 12 laps after starting deep in the field. Who says you can’t make up ground on a road course, especially with two stage cautions. He wound up 13th, which is not indicative of how good his car was. But he is safe in the playoffs with 3 wins.

The picture gets murky for McMurray, Hamlin, Logano, Bowyer and Kenseth. The chances to win are running out for these six drivers. They are all capable of winning and are within striking distance in points. But no one wants to be “that guy” that is still standing when the music stops.

In worse shape are Earnhardt and Kahne who sit deeper in the points and have to win to get in because there is no way they can point in. Daytona is about as good of a chance Earnhardt will get in the remaining races. He is excellent there but has had a stretch of bad luck for a couple of years now. This is a must win situation for him. Running a close second means nothing. Sure, we are headed back to Pocono and Michigan once more before the playoffs start, but why wait till then? For Kasey Kahne, he should look to another track for his first win since his performance at Daytona is not that good.

With Watkins Glen coming up, you also have to look at AJ Allmendinger as a threat to win. That makes things even tighter for the rest of these bubble drivers. And if Chase Elliott gets his first win before the playoffs, then it gets even worse.

Needless to say it is no time to panic, but give it a couple more races, a DNF here or there and panic time is right around the corner.