Often when your back is against the wall, that is when the best performances can come about. It can be seen in many sports, from the rally in the 9th inning, to that game-winning drive in the 4th quarter. It’s that three-point shot to win the national championship, or the goal-saving block to hoist the Stanley Cup.
Being clutch when it matters the most is what separates a winning team from a championship team.
If there is ever a driver that defines being clutch in NASCAR, it is Kevin Harvick. He’s gotten the nickname of the “Closer” because he comes on when it matters the most, and makes it count. He was clutch when he took the win at New Hampshire to make it into the Round of 12.
At Kansas, he was in a much bigger hole. His issues a week ago at Charlotte, losing power and then falling victim to a misfire in the garage, put him in a must-win situation.
He didn’t just need to win, he needed to make sure he won before heading to the final race in the round.
When his Outback Chevrolet took the lead with 29 laps remaining, the one goal he needed was to see that checkered flag, and punch his ticket to the third round. At the checkered flag, that ticket was cashed, and the “Closer” lived up to his name. Harvick is onto the next round.
That win, despite being important for Harvick, did nothing for the League. Four of five Chase events have been without a victory for any writer, but because of the vast amount of picks this week, the standings took a mighty twist. There were a lot better finishes, with some writers leaping to the front, and up, from where they were a week ago, and others falling to the point of needing a lot of hope to fend off elimination.
Here is where everyone stands after the Hollywood Casino 400:
Misan Akuya (3062) Matt Kenseth finished 9th – 4 
Rob Tiongson (3062) Matt Kenseth finished 9th – 2 
Billy Fellin (3059) Kasey Kahne finished 10th – 3 
Dustin Parks (3043) Joey Logano finished 3rd – 2 
Ashley Hobbs (3043) Jimmie Johnson finished 4th – 2 
Ashley Hull (3042) Kyle Busch finished 5th – 9 
Mary Jo Buchanan (3039) Martin Truex Jr. finished 11th – 3 
Ashley McCubbin (3039) Chase Elliott finished 31st – 2 
Sal Sigala Jr. (3033) Denny Hamlin finished 15th – 3 
Rob Blount (3032) Brad Keselowski finished 38th – 4 
Klarissa Mitchell (2170) Joey Logano finished 3rd – 1
Patti Rodisch (2134) Jimmie Johnson finished 4th – 3
Next Race: The standings in the Chase are so close, one mistake could mean the difference between having points reset to 4000, and being back to 2000. One move could mean continuing for a championship, or just trying to steal away a little thunder. One move…one mistake.
Next week, that one move or one mistake could mean a trophy or calamity. The main reason…so much of what happens is not in the hands of the one at the wheel, but rather the other competitors.
The final race in this round is the beast, the track that is big, wide, and needs restriction. The time has come to return to Talladega, where anything can, will and has occurred. The only guarantee, the Chase will eliminate four drivers at race’s end, and the League will eliminate three writers.
All you participants, it’s either gamble, play it safe, or go outside the box to secure a spot. In any case, your picks need to be locked in by Thursday, October 20, at 10 p.m. ET for the Alabama 500.