Harvick crashes in opening race of NASCAR's playoffs

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick crashed Sunday in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

The defense of his title hit a snag on a restart with 132 laps remaining at Chicagoland Speedway. Jimmie Johnson made contact with Harvick on the restart and it created a tire rub on Harvick's Chevrolet.

Harvick drove for two laps with the sheet metal rubbing against his left rear tire, and he wiggled the car in an apparent attempt to correct the issue.

Instead, after he thought the problem was fixed, the left rear tire blew and Harvick's car shot into the wall.

He limped the damaged Stewart-Haas Racing car to the garage, where he climbed from the cockpit as the No. 4 team began extensive repairs.

Harvick was 57 laps down and in 42nd place when he return to the track. He told his team on his radio to let him know when he was near Johnson on the track, and he appeared to wag his finger out his car window as he passed Johnson's crew on his way back onto the track.

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