So NASCAR lowered the boom on the No. 15 team and docked driver Clint Bowyer 25 championship points for infractions allegedly disovered during post-race inspection following last week's opening race of the 2015 Chase at Chicagoland Speedway.
Obviously that. combined with a poor 19th-place run at Chicagoland for the start of the Chase puts Bowyer way behind the 8-ball.
Actually, though, the one driver it sort of helps is Kevin Harvick.
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I mean, the reality is it doesn't guarantee Harvick anything. But it does open up another set of doors for Harvick's No. 4 team to make it a little more encouraging as they hope to continue to advance in the Chase.
If the penalty against Bowyer is upheld (Michael Waltrip Racing has said it will appeal), the 25 points he'll be docked will knock him all the way to 16th in the 16-driver Chase standings, allowing Harvick to move up one spot to 15th after his own unfortunate 42nd-place finish at Chicagoland.
Unfortunately for Clint, unless his penalty gets overturned, this puts him into a must-win situation. The bad news is that Clint hasn't won all year. The good news for Clint is we are racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend and he's won there before.
So this weekend is his best opportunity because the statistics show that Clint just doesn't run well enough at Dover, where we head next week. No one really expects him to win there.
Both Kevin and Clint had a pretty ugly weekends at Chicagoland. Clint's penalty only makes it worse for him, while it does give Kevin a glimmer of hope that the No. 4 team desperately needs.
I also don't think people give Kevin much of a thought as a possible winner this weekend, but they would be wrong. He runs really strong there. He's actually been in contention to win at Loudon the last three or four times we have visited there. If ever there was a weekend for either Kevin or Clint to win, Sunday is it.