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Harvick, bush front at NASCAR half way



CONCORD, NC (AP) At the NASCAR halftime, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch look like a two-man race for the title.

They have won nine out of 13 races – 10 of which is 14 All-Star races this month – and both are not expected to slow down in the second half of the NASCAR race 26-race season.

Busch and Harvick were the headliners again Sunday night. Busch led 377 out of 400 laps to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Harvick, who had won the last two points races and the All-Star race, was not there in the end. But he made a charge of 39 to the fourth in the first 70 laps before an accident took him to the garage.

While the rest of NASCAR is trying to run a summer playoff, Harvick and Bush are getting ready for bigger things.

"Our goal is to win races every week," said Harvick, 201

4 Series Champion. "I think we're doing that right now as an organization that's still the goal."

Busch, like Harvick in March, won three races in a row earlier this year and both teams seem to be able to make more wins before the Las Vegas playoffs begin in September.

After 13 races last season, there were 10 riders with a win that secured them a place in the 16-man playoffs. The dominance of Harvick and Busch this year means that only six riders have won races and perhaps scored points to focus more in the second half.

Denny Hamlin, who missed the playoffs only once from 2006 to 2017, is seventh in the points and one of those winless riders who could be pushed out without this win. Hamlin, Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate, said the difference this year is that a bit of speed makes the difference between the front and the top of the table.

"We are disappointed," said Hamlin, third in Charlotte. "It's something we'll keep looking for."

Truex won last year's title with eight wins. He won the Auto Club 400 in California this season to play in the playoffs. Still, he said he and his team are struggling to find the pace and make another run at the top.

"We still have a long way to go," said Truex.

There is not much to look for the moment for Busch, the pole-sitter who won every stage on a track where he had never won a points race before.

Bush had a racing aura about him, crew chief Adams Stevens said, demonstrating that he was prepared to finally break into Charlotte. Busch drove off the field at the restart and had six seconds ahead of second-placed Martin Truex Jr. in the final laps.

"It's important for me to help Kyle achieve his goals," Stevens said. "And that was a big deal for him."

Busch is 33 and is in good shape. He looks forward to the rest of the season, no matter who gets in his way. Few things make him happier than fighting for victory in the car.

"He does not settle for less and no less resists his fellow human beings," said Stevens. I'm personally comforting you, you know what you're going to get, it's hard to beat. "

Such is Harvick, who shook off a terrible week with an amazing – if short – run to the front.

Harvick failed several times on Thursday, which meant he could not qualify and was moved to the back of the field. On Saturday, he lost training time as his team worked to solve the problems. Harvick was not deterred by this and struggled steadily on Sunday to finish fourth, before hitting the wall in the 83rd round and driving into the garage.

Although Harvick came in last in the 40-car field He was thrilled with his season so far – and the power he showed before he left.

"It was fun to get through there," he said.

More AP Car Racing: https: //racing.ap .org

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