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Kevin Harvick bolted into third place in the Chase, and Jeff Gordon jumped to fourth after Sunday's race in Kansas.
Driver Kevin Harvick (29) takes the checkered flag to win Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
Driver Kevin Harvick (front right) leads the pack coming out of a caution with 30 laps to go in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Sunday. Harvick went on to win the race.
Monday, October 7, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Considering where Jeff Gordon was after Richmond — left out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in part due to some late-race shenanigans — he couldn’t have been happier on Sunday.
Not only is Gordon in the Chase, he’s making a charge.
Gordon finished third at Kansas Speedway behind winner Kevin Harvick and runner-up Kurt Busch, his third top-10 finish in four races in NASCAR’s playoffs. That’s allowed him to climb to fourth in points, 32 behind leader Matt Kenseth with six races left in the season.
“Earlier this year, I was probably as frustrated as I’ve ever been in a racecar. We were just missing something,” Gordon said. “Right now, my team has been bringing great cars to the track, not just in the Chase, but I think three, four races prior to that, we started to make gains.”
Still, those gains wouldn’t have been enough for Gordon to squeeze into the Chase when at least three organizations appeared to manipulate the ending to the race at Richmond.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France used his power the following weekend to make an unprecedented expansion to the field after two separate investigations revealed that Gordon did not have a fair chance to race his way into the 12-driver Chase.
Now, the four-time champion is making a move toward the top of the table.
He finished sixth in the Chase opener at Chicago, struggled to a 15th-place finish at New Hampshire, and then bounced back with a fourth-place run at Dover. His performance on a slippery surface at Kansas Speedway on Sunday sends him to Charlotte brimming with confidence.
“It’s a team effort,” Gordon said. “I’m just proud of how we’ve fought through everything we’ve fought through this year, and we’re making the most of it.”
Gordon isn’t the only one making a Chase charge.
Harvick’s third victory of the season shot him to third in points behind Kenseth and five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. He was 39 points back heading into the weekend and trimmed off 14 points from his deficit, putting him within striking distance of his first championship.
“Everybody wrote us off at the beginning of the year,” said Harvick, who recalled that nobody wanted to talk to him at the series’ annual media day. “We’re just going to keep going our thing, and hopefully keep doing it quietly and have fun at it.”
Harvick had back-to-back third-place finishes in 2010 and ’11, and was fourth in the Chase last year. A championship would tie a nice bow on his career with Richard Childress Racing. Harvick is heading to Stewart-Haas next year.
“We’re committed to try to win the championship,” Childress said. “We owe it to our sponsors and our fans to give them 100 percent, and that’s what we agreed to do, and that’s what we’re going to do until Homestead. No matter what happens between now and then, that’s our goal is to go after the championship. What a great way to go out.”
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