Harvick Wins The First Chase Race at New Hampshire; Takes Points Lead

Kevin Harvick lead 196 of 300 laps to win from the pole Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway. The win was his fourth of the season and the second win for Harvick in as many weeks.

Sunday's win propels Harvick into the Nextel Cup points lead for the first time in his Nextel Cup career. Harvick will take a 35 point lead over 2nd place Denny Hamlin into the second race in the Chase for the Nextel Cup at Dover this weekend. Harvick now leads the Nextel Cup and Busch Series points standings.

Some of the other Chasers weren't so lucky on Sunday. Jimmie Johnson who led the point standings for 22 weeks this season found himself dropping from 2nd to 9th in the Chase after losing a cylinder early in the race and after a collision with Sterling Marlin which sent him to the garage. Johnson was able to return to the racetrack some 70 laps down and now finds himself trailing Harvick by 139 points.

Kyle Busch also suffered some serious bad luck Sunday when he made contact with Jeff Green on the first lap of the race. A second collision 100 laps from the finish resulted in a 38th place finish and now Busch finds himself in 10th place in the Chase 146 points out of the lead.

Kasey Kahne, Johnson and Busch will all look to make up some considerable ground this weekend when the Cup Series heads just down the road to the Monster Mile at Dover. All three drivers are facing points deficits of more than 100 points heading into this weekend. Another weekend of bad luck for these three could all but spell the end of their 2006 Nextel Cup aspirations.

by Michael Cash - thespread.com - Email Us

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