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Harvick would need to gain that much in every race to catch Edwards.

“What’s fair in my mind is probably not what’s fair in the guys’ (minds) in the first two spots,” he said before gaining five points at Martinsville. “It’s just a matter of doing what you have to do for your team and sometimes fair in the end doesn’t win the championship.”

Edwards has a hard time thinking that way, at least outside the moment.

“I don’t know. I’ve learned the hard way. You’ve got to be careful about wrecking people on purpose,” he said. “You never know what the outcome of that will be.”

Harvick? Sounds as though he’d take his chances.

“It’s one of those things where you do what you have to do to try to win the championship and you suffer the consequences later,” he said.

The 18 cautions and 108 laps under a yellow flag at Martinsville were both season highs, and Chase contenders such as Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski, who started the race second and third in points, both got involved in late contact on the track and saw their championship hopes crushed.

Jeff Gordon, a four-time champion, said it also pays to know who is around you.

“I don’t want to be the determining factor that affects the championship in a major way, but we are here to win so I’m gonna do just about everything I can to win but I’m not going to take one of those guys out to do it,” he said. “I think those guys, we have to be mindful of what they have going on, but they have to be mindful of the situation that they’re in.”

Mindful, for sure, but also ever cautious.

“You work hard all year to try to be in this position,” Stewart, a two-time champion, said. “When you start the Chase off with 10 races to go, a lot can happen. There’s a lot of variables that you worry about along the way. It doesn’t mean were still not worried about it.”

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