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NASCAR Sprint Cup Martinsville: Harvick expects wild weekend

As one of the remaining eight drivers still in contention for the 2014 title, Kevin Harvick said that he was expecting wild times at Martinsville.
Talladega might be known for the unpredictability of huge wrecks that can take anyone out at anytime, but this week's race at Martinsville Speedway has almost as fearsome a reputation as its big brother thanks to the cramped, claustrophobic nature of the half-mile short track.

"I think we could turn any event into a wildcard, but I think that Martinsville is probably the place that a lot of things could even up in terms of the rivalries that have been created with guys in the Chase and out of the Chase," suggested Stewart Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick.

"I think we are on a pretty good path to having a clean slate as far as things have gone this season, so hopefully we can make it through Martinsville because I think that's the one that'll be the craziest," he added

Harvick went on to explain that that it was because of all the concentrated pressure of the season to now, all the combined feuds, frustrations and rivalries that had been simmering away for weeks and months suddenly exploding to the surface that made the autumn visit to Martinsville such a danger for those drivers like himself still in the hunt for a championship.

"I think everybody is unhappy at this particular stage of the year because the intensity level is so high," he said. "You know that whether that moment was good or bad that it could have been the moment that you could win or lose the championship from. You see that intensity and obviously that showed through pretty heavy at Charlotte with a lot of guys.

"Charlotte got out of control with everything that happened after the race," he added. "I don't think anybody predicted Kansas being as crazy as it was. Chicago, with all the penalties and everything that happened was pretty crazy, as well."

Harvick is one of the last eight drivers in the Chase in its new-style format this year, and he's hoping that a good run at Martinsville will help him in his bid to make it all the way to the season finale at Homestead-Miami on November 16 where the final four drivers will have a winner-take-all race for the championship.

"First it was just trying to get to Martinsville and we've accomplished that," he said. "Now we have to focus on getting the best finish that we can out of each racetrack.

"These next three races line up really well for us. We've been fortunate to have won at Martinsville before and we ran really well there the first race," he pointed out. "Martinsville has been good to us in the past.

"I think right now you just have to approach it as, whatever you have to do to get the best finish for your team, that's what you have to do at this particular point. The goal is to get to Homestead and we have three races to do that."

Harvick clinched victory at the 'Paperclip' in April 2011, where he led six laps and battled Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the closing laps to score the win by 0.727s. In the most recent race here earlier this season, Harvick started 18th, led one lap and finished seventh, his second top-ten finish of the year.

By comparison Harvick has yet to score a Sprint Cup victory at Texas which is the second of the three races in the Eliminator 8 Round of the Chase, but he has scored five Sprint Cup wins at Phoenix including three of his last four starts at the mile oval.

"The 1.5-mile tracks have been our bread and butter and Phoenix has been really good pretty much every single time we've been there," he said. Harvick just needs to win any one of the three races to guarantee his place in the final four at Homestead next month.

"I guess if I'd have to pick one that we've been most successful at it would be Phoenix hands down," he continued. "But, our 1.5-mile stuff has been our bread and butter this year as we've gone through the season, so that should be good.

"I think we've all proven as we've watched all the races or been a part of the races that we can pretty much make all the races into being a wildcard race," he added.

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