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Harvick! Yes, and he looks NASCAR title bound....But, hey, how about Jack Roush's bunch too!

  Gil Martin's pit crew, taking care of business for Kevin Harvick Sunday at Michigan International Speedway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BROOKLYN, Mich.

   Kevin Harvick, pre-race, called the Michigan 400 part of a 'vacation,' referring to his commanding Sprint Cup tour points lead, but he wasn't sitting on any beach Sunday – and he used a surprising no-pit call by crew chief Gil Martin to win his third of the year, in a sprint-away finish over Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards.
   "Three more weeks of vacation, and then we can go back to pressure for the last 10," Harvick said after adding the win at this two-mile track to his wins at Talladega and Daytona.
   "It could all go wrong, but it's been a great season."
   Harvick has been remarkably consistent all season
   "Kevin has always been solid," Hamlin said. "Even in that 10 week stretch where we won five times, Kevin probably still scored more points.
   "So I can't see how he's not the favorite going into the chase. He's been solid, and he's getting stronger."
   NASCAR is planning a major engine dyno test session, "And I'll be real interested to see what that shows," Hamlin said. "Richard Childress' engines look to be the strongest." The drivers' engines NASCAR is taking from here back to the Charlotte R&D center to test are from the cars of Harvick, Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Reed Sorenson, Martin Truex Jr., Marcos Ambrose, Joe Nemechek, Sam Hornish, Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne and Patrick Carpentier.
   Indeed Harvick's win with a Childress-Richie Gilmore-Danny Lawrence engine follows Juan Pablo Montoya's Watkins Glen win last week with an RC engine. Childress engines have been strong all season.
   "I was beating Kevin really bad through turns three and four, though he was a little better in one and two," Hamlin said.
   The shape of the race really didn't become clear until 15 laps to go in the 200-lapper, Hamlin said. That was five laps into the final key restart.
   "We really didn't know if those guys who had just taken four new tires would blow by us (having not taken tires)," Hamlin said. "But when Kevin, Tony (Stewart) and I broke away with about 15 to go, we knew it was a three-man race."

  Vinter and winning car owner Richard Childress pops some champagne -- from Childress Vineyards? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Among the three who didn't stop for fresh tires....keeping alive the controversy about how to play the end game in this sport on pit road.
   Sometimes four-tire gambles pay off with victory, sometimes four-tire gambles lead to disaster.
   This time, in an oddity, it was the no-stop gambit that proved key.
   The biggest story of the day, of course, had to be the solid performance by car owner Jack Roush's four teams. At one point late in the day those four were in the top-eight. And Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth finished 3-4-5, right in the hunt, showing the turnaround clearly, from what was such a dismal first half of the year.
   In fact Biffle led the most laps and appeared for much of the race to have the strongest car in the field.
   But late race pit gambles scrambled things.
   Edwards jumped up six spots in the standings, with only Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond left till the playoff cut.
   "This is definitely one of the strongest performances as a team we've had all season, and if we could have taken advantage of the tire situation, we could have been really tough," Edwards said.
   "This is how you to have to run win races. We didn't have a dominant car, but we had a car as fast as anyone. We have to understand why we're faster; it's not enough just to be faster.
   "This chase could be really interesting. This chase is really looking good for us, for sure. I don't think there is a favorite right now.
   "It's great having Jack back. We really wanted to get a win for him, but this was a strong, strong effort."

                                               The results of Sunday's Michigan Carfax 400



  Remember how hot these guys were with each other last summer? Nothing like winning to resolve all those problems, and Sunday winner Kevin Harvick (L, with wife Delana) and car owner Richard Childress (R) are looking amazingly strong heading the finish line of the regular NASCAR season and into the playoffs, which open Sept. 19th in Loudon, N.H. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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Chad Knaus is probably using

Chad Knaus is probably using this time to prepare for the Chase tracks so even if Jimmy Johnson doesn't look strong now, wait until the Chase starts. I am not a Johnson fan. I have seen this happen in previous years.

good point....and of course

good point....and of course august is not usually one of jimmie's better months anyway...but that whole hendrick bunch looks almost plagued with bad luck right now....

Hmmm, what if Junior would

Hmmm, what if Junior would have gone to the RCR instead of Hendrick? Probably the same thing happening now. Nothing.

i'm afraid that whole

i'm afraid that whole junior-hendrick thing was so much about marketing, and then when everyone realized there were more technical issues it turned bad. i'm wondering how much of that alan gustafson-lance mcgrew teamup deal has worn on mark martin's efforts this year.

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