The Final Word – Among Chicago lucky dog hopefuls, Harvick was the day’s Old Yeller

You got to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good. That is how the old saying goes. I wonder what the saying is when you are good, but everything just gets flushed down the toilet? Kevin Harvick had a bad case of the swirls, as in down the drain, for his Chicago experience.

So you do not get the wrong impression, I should say that Harvick came damn close to getting the Lucky Dog. It was one he was waiting to occur since the 50th of 267 scheduled laps. When caution waved over Brian Scott’s spin on lap 124, Martin Truex Jr. had passed Harvick to be in the coveted position. They found debris on the backstretch on lap 193, but it was Tony Stewart who got the nod. When it waved again to force overtime on lap 264, it was Stewart again, the man with the good fortune. That left Harvick all dressed up for the ball, but the damn coach remained a pumpkin.

You would think it was another pit crew screw up that bit him. Instead, it was just bad luck. As he and Jimmie Johnson sat in the pits under green, they found some debris and waved the yellow. Johnson managed to roll to the line before Truex, the leader, crossed over. Harvick came two feet short. While Johnson led for the next 50 laps, Harvick was dropped a lap down. Two feet was all he needed. Two feet is not what he got. Twentieth and a lap down was the end result. As was the fate of the title character in Old Yeller, Harvick’s hopes for a warm and fuzzy finish were shot.

Johnson led the most laps. Too bad about that speeding penalty in the pits with 33 to go. That left him 12th. At least, for the moment. More on that later.

That left Truex. A skinned tire had him requiring roadside assistance 70 laps in, but then he got by Harvick to get the aforementioned pass to the lead lap. With 20 to go, all he saw was the tail pipe of Chase Elliott who looked about to pounce on his first career win. Too bad about Michael McDowell’s little mishap that forced overtime. Truex came to the re-start in fourth, and powered his way to the front and the victory, his third of the season. Joey Logano and Elliott were next.

Interesting post script to this one. When they put the cars through inspection after the event, both Johnson and Truex failed. We hear it was not a big miss, but a miss none the less. No doubt, the victor will keep his win and get his free pass to the next round of the Chase. Johnson, on the other hand, still has a thing for points at this stage of the game, and any penalty there could hurt.

As we await NASCAR justice, some are more comfortable than others heading to Loudon but no one took a big hit at Chicago. Okay, other than Chris Buescher, who was an expected 28th and now sits a dozen points behind the 12th placed Stewart. Buescher might be sitting on a pumpkin tethered to some mice, but at least he is at the ball and rumor has it he should also retain those glass slippers as a souvenir.

Matt Kenseth has a pair of souvenirs as a reminder of his past two races in New Hampshire, both victories. Harvick has not won there since 2006, but something tells me that you will not need to ask who let the dogs out on Sunday. I think ole Happy will be unleashing the hounds to try and make up for some lost time and points. For their sake, I hope his pit boys are good and lucky on that day.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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