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Harvick unfazed by rough strategy

Kevin Harvick replaced the late Dale Earnhardt in taking over the No. 29 Chevrolet on the Winston Cup circuit, so it makes sense that Harvick would be tough to intimidate.

Harvick was leading under caution with less than 10 laps left in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday when veteran Robert Pressley, hoping to unnerve the rookie driver, nudged the nose of his No. 77 Ford tight to Harvick's rear bumper.

Nice try.

"I don't know if he was trying to intimidate me or what," said Harvick, 25. "But I'm sure I knocked the grille out of his car because he got a pretty good brake check. The game was over after that."

So was the race.

When the green flag waved with six laps to go, Harvick pulled away to his second victory in 17 career starts. He became the fourth driver to win more than once in his rookie season, joining Tony Stewart (three in 1999), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two in 2000) and Davey Allison (two in 1988).

Harvick, the only rookie-of-the-year contender to win this season, was the highest finishing rookie for the ninth time.

Pressley finished a career-best second, holding off Ricky Rudd's No. 28 Ford.

Harvick climbed from 10th to seventh in the points standings, a remarkable feat considering he has run one fewer race than anyone else in the top 25.

Harvick did not run the season-opening Daytona 500, in which Earnhardt was killed in a last-lap crash in February.

"(I've learned) it's not about destroying my race car during the first 100 miles of the race and not having anything left at the end," Harvick said. "If you can't win, you have to make the best of the situation. To make the best out of a weekend is better than crashing your car and not finishing the race."

CHATTER BOX: Fans bored with the single-groove racing at Chicagoland Speedway should have tuned their scanners to Earnhardt Jr.'s channel.

The chatter between he and crew members was quite entertaining:

Complaining under caution that he needed a new set of tires, Earnhardt Jr. said in a shaky voice, "Evveennn unnddderr yellllow, baaaadd vibbbraattion."

Angry that it took NASCAR several laps to wave the yellow flag after Jerry Nadeau's broken oil line spilled oil on the track, Earnhardt Jr. said, "I hate it when they do that. Why do they wait so long? I just about had a very high-speed impact with the wall and I would not have been happy about that."

Bored with single-groove racing at Chicagoland Speedway, he said, "This ain't no fun. They need to consult me on the design of these new tracks. They need to speak with me." To which spotter Ty Norris replied, "Now you're sounding like an Earnhardt."

STILL LEARNING: When Mike Skinner's No. 31 Chevrolet careened into the wall at nearly full speed early in the Tropicana 400, hearts skipped a few beats.

After several seconds, with flames escaping from under the hood, there had been no signs of movement in the car and the window net had not been dropped, a universal signal that the driver is okay. Tension mounted.

And NBC blew it.

Rather than stay with scenes of rescue workers arriving or having announcers tell viewers the potential severity of the situation, the network, in only its second race of the season, showed unscheduled pit stops. Nearly 2{ minutes went by before viewers learned that Skinner was out of his car, limping badly.

And that's too long, especially this season.

Skinner, 44, who was briefly unconscious, sustained a mild concussion and fractured left ankle. He was wearing a head and neck support device.

FEELS LIKE HOME: Moments after Michael Andretti won the Molson Indy in Toronto on Sunday for the seventh time in his career, he leaned over to whisper to team owner Barry Green: "I wouldn't mind becoming a Canadian citizen."

Andretti also has won three times at Vancouver in his 41 career CART victories.

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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