They might not admit it publicly, but privately some drivers and crew chiefs will tell you they hate the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Why?

For the same reason fans love it -- it is gut-wrenching and it is unpredictable, with the very real possibility that an entire season can hinge on just one bad moment in any of the 10 races.

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Sunday's victim of calamity was Kevin Harvick, who had contact with Jimmie Johnson on a mid-race restart, cut a tire, hit the wall and finished 42nd. With just New Hampshire and Dover left in the Challenger Round, Harvick pretty much needs to win one of those two races to still be in the title hunt.

Earlier this year, Harvick set a regular-season record for most points earned under the current scoring format, as he won twice and had a remarkable 10 second place finishes among his 18 top fives. The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet was a threat to win virtually every race this season.

Is it fair that after such an amazing and consistent regular season that Harvick's title chances are in deep jeopardy because of just one awful race?

Hell, no, it isn't fair.

But it's the Chase and things like this happen, which is why it makes for such compelling racing. It's also the reason drivers are so fired up already and why we certainly will see a lot more histrionics over the next nine races.

It's also why you can't assume that JGR is going to run the table, despite their well-documented dominance in recent weeks. If Harvick can finish 42nd on a given week, so can anyone else.

And, predictably, social media blew up, as it always does after such drama.

All of this is great for the sport. It sucks for Harvick, but it's great for NASCAR to have people passionately debating whether Harvick punched Johnson in the motorhome compound after the race or whether he merely shoved him, or whether the on-track contact was Johnson's fault or caused by Joey Logano, who appeared to push Johnson on the restart.

The beauty of this lies in the disagreements on who did what to whom.

In NASCAR, you need heroes and villains. Depending on your allegiances, Johnson can be the villain here for moving up into Harvick, or Harvick can be the villain for getting physical with Johnson after the race. Or maybe Logano started it all.

But either way, fans are talking about NASCAR and arguing about NASCAR, and I think that was really the point all along in coming up with the this system: Boys, have at it.

Can't wait to see what comes next.