The “Big Three” have dominated the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series news lately, so much so that I suspect that, right now, you really don’t want to hear much more about them.
Fair enough. However, I don’t think it’s likely that the media is going to back off reporting about them because, simply put, they are making all the news.
Consider the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire. Kevin Harvick won the race for his sixth victory of the season.
“The Big Three” have won 15 of 20 races this year, took three of the top four positions at New Hampshire and hold down the top three spots in the point standings, with Busch at No. 1.
And they show no signs of slowing down.
As if all the above isn’t enough the finish at New Hampshire came down to a closing battle between Harvick and Busch.
Harvick won by making the classic “bump and run” maneuver to shove Busch out of the way with seven laps to go.
As unsportsmanlike as the move appears – deliberately making contact to seize the advantage – in NASCAR it is accepted as a clean, strategic play. Of course that only applies when it is done correctly. If it results in a wreck it’s considered dirty pool.
Nearly all drivers have made the move but perhaps the competitor most noted for it was Dale Earnhardt. It contributed to his “Intimidator” persona.
He called it “ratting the cage.” But even he wasn’t perfect and thus created mayhem from time to time. Terry Labonte can tell you that.
“I needed to make the move when I did,” Harvick said. “The more opportunities to get in his wheelhouse, his thought process, the better. The less chance you have … he’s that good.”
For his part, Busch, no stranger to controversial incidents, admitted Harvick’s strategy was proper.
“I was in the way so no harm, no foul,” he said.
I am a believer that competitors take their experiences at races and file them in their heads. They remember.
So it wouldn’t surprise me if there is a voice in Busch’s head singing, “Til we meet again.”
But back to Harvick. Yes, I have written about him before. But in recent years he has enjoyed the most productive time of his career.
His six wins are the most he’s had in a single season and there are still 16 events remaining.
He showed his potential early and dramatically.
He was the Richard Childress Racing replacement after Earnhardt tragically lost his life at Daytona in 2001.
Two races later, at Atlanta, Harvick scored a dramatic, narrow victory over Jeff Gordon that ranks as one of the most emotional in NASCAR history.
Harvick proved to be no flash-in-the-pan. He won 23 times with Childress from 2001-2013.
Things got better after he hooked up with Stewart Haas Racing in 2014. Harvick has won 20 more times. His career total of 43 victories is just one behind Bill Elliott and three behind Buck Baker.
He won the championship in 2014 and, save for 2016, he has not finished lower than third. He’s in second place now and joins Busch and Truex Jr. as the leading contenders of another title.
These drivers likely feel confident their teams can win anywhere. Given the circumstances, why wouldn’t they?
“Points are everything and getting a ‘W’ is what it’s all about,” Harvick said.
Can’t argue with that.
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