Kevin Harvick led the whole regular season, the clear winner for the NASCAR Championship. Harvick won the regular season by 30 points over Joey Logano. He took that confidence with him into the Chase.
In the opening media event prior to the Chase, Kevin Harvick called out the Joe Gibbs Racing teams who had been his only apparent competition the last few races before the Chase. “I think we’re going to pound them into the ground,” Harvick said. “That’s what I think. Hopefully, they can beat themselves.”
It didn’t happen that way. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin won at Chicagoland Speedway, the first race of the Chase after Harvick raced his fellow Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson too hard and cut a tire to fall way back on his bid to repeat as Champion.
The next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Harvick was again racing at the front to continue his effort to a second Championship only to run out of fuel at the end of the race. Matt Kenseth, another Joe Gibbs Racing driver capitalized on this to move himself into the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. At this point it was apparent that Kevin Harvick would be plagued by his words to open the Championship. He also was in a very deep hole in points putting himself in a must win position at Dover International Speedway, a track he has never won at before and one he has not done well at.
There was other wisdom that Harvick uttered prior to Chicagoland that, he is glad held no truth. Harvick said about the Joe Gibbs teams, “Well, you can’t be good once every three weeks. You got to be good for 10 weeks. I know those guys have run fast. It’s been a different Gibbs car that we’ve raced against for the last 10 weeks. As a company, they’ve had some good success in winning races, but it hasn’t been the same car.”
Well Kevin Harvick has done exactly what he said wouldn’t work. He has run good once every three weeks and has won at Dover to move himself up into the Contender round of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Above all else Kevin Harvick has created a legend, one of a fierce competitor who never lets circumstances change his demeanor and approach to the task at hand. He used to be called the closer or “where did he come from” at the end of races. Now he will be called that about finishing championships. How else can one, who has never won at a track, step it up to seemingly do the impossible to stay alive in order to win a championship?
“Oh yeah. Anytime you can go through moments like this and gain some momentum and prove to yourself that you can do things like this, there’s no way you can’t be stronger. I’m just do proud of those guys and so proud of our fans and everybody for all their support all week.” Harvick added, “There it is, stay the course. That’s what he (Tony Stewart) always says. Tony is just one of those guys who always puts everybody before him and that’s really what makes Stewart-Haas what it is. It’s just a lot of fun to be a part of this team.”
Feature Photo Credit: Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing