Kevin Harvick, others need help to contend for Sprint Cup title

It would take a meltdown at the top of the Chase for the Championship standings for anyone other than Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth to win it.

Since NASCAR adopted the playoffs for the 2004 season, the first-or-second-place driver with two races to go has gone on to win the championship.

Kevin Harvick enters Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway as the third-place driver in the playoffs.

His 40-point deficit to Johnson is practically impossible to erase unless Johnson and Kenseth have catastrophic problems in the final two races.

FULLY LOADED: Not only did Furniture Row Racing get Martin Truex Jr. to replace Kurt Busch next year in the No. 78 Chevrolet, it got his entire pit crew from Michael Waltrip Racing. Truex was forced to look for new work when Waltrip lost his primary sponsor. What makes the move so unusual is it wound up involving his crew.

DARLINGTON DRIVE: Darlington Race­way is tapping into the Palmetto State’s biggest sporting rivalry.

The track will launch a two-week food drive starting Friday, setting up barrels representing Clemson and South Carolina to collect the canned goods. People can also make cash donations in the name of the school they support.

When all the donations have been counted, the track will fly the winning school’s flag at Darlington on Nov. 30 when the Tigers take on the Gamecocks in football at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

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