Kevin Harvick’s win last Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway allowed him to advance to the Chase’s Eliminator Round.
But as far as he’s concerned, his work in the current Contender Round – which ends this Sunday with the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway – is not yet over.
A second consecutive win for Harvick would potentially erase several of his biggest rivals for the Sprint Cup championship.
Going into Sunday, Brad Keselowski of Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are all effectively in win-or-bust situations.
Thus, Harvick is compelled to try and ensure their elimination by robbing them of the automatic advance that comes with a Chase victory.
After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a Chase without Keselowski, Johnson, and Dale Jr. means a better shot for Harvick to finally capture that elusive first Cup.
“Anytime you see people in a vulnerable position where they could not advance to the next round, from a competitor’s standpoint you want to do everything you can do to try and keep an upper hand,” said Harvick, the second driver to advance to the Eliminator Round after Joey Logano did it with his win at Kansas two weeks ago.
“Whatever your best shot is for your team is what you want to see happens. You may have some feelings one way or the other toward teams and drivers and different people, and you want to see different scenarios play out and the excitement that goes with it.
“But in the end, you want the best scenario for your team to win a championship from pure greed standpoint, I guess you could say. Really that’s what we’re here to do and that’s win the championship and you want the best scenario for your team.”
A ‘Dega win would also confirm that Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team have indeed captured the form necessary to contend for a title.
Their victory in the second race of the season at Phoenix allowed the team to work on jelling together as a unit. As the litany of bad breaks for them throughout the summer will tell you, the process has been far from perfect.
But is everything coming together for them at just the right moment? Harvick hopes that’s the case.
“Hopefully, you’re getting to a refined point that you think is where you need to be to race for a championship,” Harvick said. “Last week was kind of the beginning of that and hopefully, we can close out the last several weeks at the same level we had then.
“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. I think there is a huge sigh of relief in a way [by winning at Charlotte] but it’s also that this is what you want to do and expect to do at this time of year.”