Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
Crew Chief: Rodney Childers
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Best Finish: 3rd (2010, 2011, 2013)
8th Chase Appearance, Best Finish of 3rd (2010, 2011, 2013)
Regular Season Recap: On most weekends this year, Kevin Harvick has been among the fastest drivers in the field. But while he’s netted a pair of wins at Phoenix and Darlington, he could have at least twice that amount and easily be the top seed in the Chase if not for an extensive string of mishaps. From broken wheel hubs and blown tires to pre-race ballast weights left in the car, Harvick and his team have had to deal with just about everything this year. It almost overshadows the fact that when they can keep it together, they’re as strong as any group in the garage.
Chris’ Take: From my perspective, this 4 team is perhaps the biggest enigma in this Chase field. What exactly are we going to see from them when everything is on the line? We know they can be contenders, but can they avoid the mechanical failures and pit crew mishaps that plagued them in the regular season? It also bears noting that Harvick himself has tripped up a few times this year as well.
However, as mentioned above, they’ve been quick almost everywhere and thus, Harvick can win at any time so long as he and his team don’t shoot themselves in the foot (again). Chicagoland is a solid early opportunity to enter the Contender Round, but a sixth Cup win at Phoenix would put him into the championship at Homestead since it’s the final race of the Eliminator Round.
Jerry’s Take: Kevin Harvick could be the most motivated and determined driver to make the Chase. With two wins and six poles, Harvick is in it to win it in his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing.
But there’s one concern: His pit crew seems to have finally gotten over the mistakes it made during the first half of the season. The key is that those mistakes don’t rear their ugly head again, and also that Harvick himself doesn’t hit a slump.
The more he can handle adversity, the further we see him going – potentially to the season-ending, winner-take-all final round at Homestead.
Tony’s Take: Like Chris mentioned, a hard one to project. His pit crew has been his own worst enemy. Yet overall, Harvick has been the fastest in the SHR quartet this entire season.
Doubtful they’ll be able to win a title in their first year together, but should well make some noise throughout the Chase – likely for a combination of both good and bad reasons.
Kevin Harvick’s Career Statistics at Chase Tracks
Chicagoland (1.5 mile) – Two wins, 7 Top-5s, 8 Top-10s in 13 starts
New Hampshire (1 mile) – One win, 5 Top-5s, 13 Top-10s in 27 starts
Dover (1 mile) – No wins, 3 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 27 starts
Kansas (1.5 mile) – One win, 3 Top-5s, 8 Top-10s in 17 starts
Charlotte (1.5 mile) – Two wins, 4 Top-5s, 10 Top-10s in 27 starts
Talladega (2.66 mile) – One win, 6 Top-5s, 11 Top-10s in 27 starts
Martinsville (half-mile) – One win, 3 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 26 starts
Texas (1.5-mile) – No wins, 3 Top-5s, 11 Top-10s in 23 starts
Phoenix (1 mile) – Five wins, 8 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 23 starts
Homestead-Miami (1.5 mile) – No wins, 5 Top-5s, 11 Top-10s in 13 starts