Chase Capsules: Kevin Harvick

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4-Kevin Harvick
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

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.