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09/01/2017

They also moved within 3 1/2 games of San Antonio (22-7) for

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Maybe its just that time of year, but it seems like some people already want to declare a winner in a contest that hasnt actually yet happened.Kevin Harvicks track record at Phoenix International Raceway is so strong that a sizable number of prognosticators have already handed victory in the Can-Am 500 to the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.Its true that Harvick has proven almost unbeatable at PIR since the track was re-profiled and repaved. He has won six of his past eight Sprint Cup Series starts at the Desert Mile and probably would have added another in the fall 2015 race if rain hadnt handed the victory to Dale Earnhardt Jr.Harvick pretty much needs to win again at Phoenix on Sunday because hes 16 points out of the all-important fourth place in the Chase standings that will determine the drivers who will join Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson in the championship shootout one week from now at Homestead-Miami Speedway.Hes confident he can triumph again, but his challengers believe the law of averages is about to put another driver in Victory Lane -- and on to Homestead with one of the two remaining spots being contested among six drivers.There are several storylines to follow when the green flag drops for Sundays 312-lap race. Heres what to watch for:1. Harvick: Theres no question, Harvick has been The Show at Phoenix dating back to his time at Richard Childress Racing.Hes won from the pole, and hes won from the 10th row. Hes led 43 percent of the laps run since 2012. More importantly, hes been able to run up front when needed in the November Chase cutoff race.Harvick believes his team thrives in the pressure of a must-win situation. And thats why he expects to be in the mix again on Sunday. Hell start the race from the outside of Row 3.Anything can happen, and we just have to control the things that we can control and try and put ourselves in the position we usually do and see where it all falls, he said Friday after qualifying. That is what makes all this here exciting. What I like about it is the sense of the unknown, the competition, the effort, and the thought and everything that goes into it. That is intriguing for me.From a team standpoint, to see where everybody is at and how they approach it is fun to me, he added. I like to see people performing and working at that level. Because once they do it, you can hold them to it.2. Alex Bowman: On Friday, Harvick said his toughest competitor at Phoenix during his streak has been Dale Earnhardt Jr. Sure enough, the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will start Sundays race from pole position.Of course, it wont be Earnhardt behind the wheel. It wont even be superstar substitute driver Jeff Gordon, who ran his last race at Martinsville.Instead, its Hendrick development driver Alex Bowman, who earned his first career pole to at least temporarily steal the limelight from the battle for the Chase.The 23-year-old has a couple years of Cup Series experience, but his full-time job this year was running simulator programs for the Hendrick organization. When Earnhardt was forced to miss the last portion of the season with concussion aftereffects, Bowman was tabbed to split time with Gordon in the No. 88.Hes shown plenty of speed, qualifying in the top six four times, including on the front row at Charlotte. But his results (a pair of top-10s with a best of seventh place at Kansas from eight starts) are not indicative of how well he has often run.He has really helped our team get better on the qualifying front as well as in the racing also, said Earnhardt, who is on hand in Phoenix. Alex has really helped our program. Jeff helped it a lot, but Alex has been a great treat for the guys to work with, and obviously he is a great driver.Though Bowmans stock has risen since he began wheeling the No. 88 on a regular basis, he still doesnt have a full-time ride for 2017. He said Friday he expects to be back in the Hendrick simulator.Im very thankful to get this opportunity, obviously not under the circumstances that anyone would want, Bowman said. But Im trying to make the most of it and having a lot of fun.We really werent that great in qualifying trim during practice, he continued. Im not sure where this came from, but Ill take it and hopefully we can stay up front on Sunday.3. The Gibbs battle: One Joe Gibbs Racing driver (Carl Edwards) is already locked into the Chase final four at Homestead. Three others (Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin) are separated by two points, and at most, two of them will join Edwards in the championship battle next week in Florida.Bottom line is at least one of the Gibbs drivers is going to leave Phoenix unhappy. And theyre all convinced that they will be racing each other for those coveted transfer spots.Closely.Obviously all of us want to be in there, so somebody is going to be disappointed when they leave here, observed Kenseth, who currently sits one point below Busch for the critical fourth place in the standings. All three of us could be disappointed when we leave here.You never know whats going to happen Sunday. Out of the eight [remaining Chase-eligible drivers], the four that dont make it are going to be disappointed whether theyre on the same team or not.Hamlin, who drew the wrath of his teammates with some defensive driving down the stretch at Martinsville, tried to downplay any rivalry between the Gibbs drivers.I dont think its that big of a deal as it sometimes seems, he said. Its going to be exciting, and were in for a very, very competitive race where I think the guys that are battling for points, if were not battling for the win, were all going to be very, very close to each other all day long.I think its going to go down to the last lap.4. The outsiders: Obviously the main focus on Sunday will be on setting the final four. Winning the race is the clear-cut way for a driver to advance, but if a non-Chase eligible driver is in position to win, it means both of the two remaining transfers will be decided on points.?After qualifying, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott put themselves in good position. Larson qualified his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet on the outside of the front row, while Elliott will pursue his first Cup Series race win from third on the grid.Larson broke through to earn his first win earlier this year at Michigan, and he is ready to add a short-track victory to his resume.I constantly try to work at it when we come to short tracks, he said. I feel like Ive gotten better but have work to do.This is as far forward as Ive ever started here, and it would be nice to get to the lead at the beginning, lead some laps, take care of my stuff and maintain track position, he added. Its a pretty quick race so you cant make too many mistakes. You have to make the right pit calls, and track position is always important here.5. Reliability: Anyone who watched the Camping World Truck Series race from Phoenix on Friday night knows that a seemingly sure win or solid finish can go up in smoke in an instant.William Byron dominated the 150-lap truck race, but his Toyota suffered a devastating engine failure with just 13 laps remaining. And although car and engine reliability is much better than it was years ago, glitches can still happen at the most inopportune time. Remember how the failure of a $5 axle seal ended Johnsons championship hopes last year at Dover?And dont forget fuel strategy. Three of the past eight Phoenix races have gone to overtime, and those few extra laps could be the difference between coasting into Homestead or being left high and dry.Like Hamlin said, this is going to go down to the last lap. Scarpe Running Asics Uomo. -- Jonathan Drouin gave Halifax the boost it needed to edge host Sherbrooke Phoenix 3-2 in a shootout in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. Asics Gel Kayano 20. Each of Houstons starters scored in double figures as the Rockets improved to 2-0 against the Spurs this season, with both victories coming on the road. They also moved within 3 1/2 games of San Antonio (22-7) for the lead the Southwest Division. http://www.scarpeasicsgel.it/asics-gel-kayano-20.html. The 31-year-old Spain midfielder hasnt played since Madrid lost in the Copa del Rey final to Atletico Madrid in May due to back and foot injuries. Asics Gel Saga Prezzo. -- PGA TOUR Canada member Steve Saunders took a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Web. Asics Gel Lyte V Nere.ca look back at each of the Top 10 stories of 2013. Today, we look back at Boston Strong - a citys recovery from tragedy. FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will miss Sundays game against the San Francisco 49ers with a chest injury, according to the injury report filed by the team on Friday.Gronkowski was staggered in the second quarter of Sunday nights game against the Seattle Seahawks after taking a hard hit to his chest from safety Earl Thomas..ddddddddddddHe returned to the game but did not practice all week.Receiver Chris Hogan is also out for the game with a back injury, the team said.---For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL. Wholesale Jerseys  Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Authentic Jerseys From China Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys ' ' '