Kevin Harvick Heads Into the Chase for the Sprint Cup As the Underdog

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Kevin Harvick Heads Into the Chase for the Sprint Cup As the Underdog
Jason Smith/Getty Images

Which really is no surprise.

Since that's all Kevin Harvick has done all season long.

Why change it now.

It's been automatic all season long, regardless of the network they all have said on a weekly basis, "here comes Kevin Harvick, were did he come from." Now add in ESPN mentioning the number of position's Harvick has picked up.

What a difference a year makes. As Harvick has led the point standings for 17 straight race weeks and 20 of the Sprint Cup regular season's 26 race weekends.

Over this period he broke his 115 race winless streak, picking up three wins (Talladega, Daytona, & Michigan), he has the most top-fives (11) and top-10's (17) and just one DNF.

Harvick now enters the post-season tied for third with Kyle Busch. He sits 30 points behind points leader Denny Hamlin and 20 points behind Jimmie Johnson in second.

With his consistency over the regular season, Harvick may very well have the best chance of his career to win his first Cup championship. It's something that he's well aware of as well.

Several media commentators and writers, have picked Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch as the favorites to win the chase.

But they do think this is the closest seeded chase yet. It should be a hard fought battle from the first race at New Hampshire and ending at Homestead for the title.

Now, I'm still going to call Johnson the favorite; after all, he's the four-time defending champion. But who's the driver with the best chance to beat Johnson? That's Harvick, the underdog.

Why? Because of the consistency Harvick's shown through the first 26 races. He's been the dominant driver in the Cup in terms of top-fives and top-10's and I doubt we'll see that change in the chase.

Even Johnson has called Harvick the favorite due to his consistency and the work his team as a whole has done. Remember, Johnson has previously won the chase due to his consistency.

For Harvick, with Johnson, Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, then Kyle and Kurt Busch having won at least a race gives them the edge confidence wise heading into the chase.

But it would be interesting to see what would happen if we had a winless championship; and those odds are pretty good with five winless drivers in the chase.

Now Harvick, with his consistency, should he win at New Hampshire, Dover, or Kansas, gets the points lead and it could very well give him an edge against the other chasers.

This would helping him beat Johnson, Hamlin, or Busch for the title, but I'm glad he's heading in under the radar as the underdog and won't have all the pressure on him.

The other major key will be which one gets through the 10 races without any problems, how the team will react to things happening that they can't control, and that brings you back to the guy that's been the most consistent through the first 26 races.

 

I'm glad that Harvick, will have his Richard Childress Racing teammates Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer, who both made the chase. Having them together makes RCR better. They work well together and teammates are important in the chase.

I'm Happy for Mr. Childress. After missing the playoffs last season, he restructured the team and gets all three racers in this year.

The chase couldn't start any better for Harvick than at New Hampshire for the Sylvania 300.

It's a track were Harvick has compiled the following stats: 19 races, one win, four top-fives, 10 top-10's, one pole, and led 318 laps. Yeah he's starting 27th, but like we learned over the first 26 races, you can't count him out from winning.

His Gil Martin led crew has been pretty solid on pit road. Sure you have a few miscues, but they always rally, and as fast as Harvick criticizes them, he also praises them.

In eight of the 10 chase races, Harvick has a average finish of 10.1; only Kyle Busch is better with an average finish of 8.8. 

"Whether we can win or lose. it's yet to be seen. But man this is the position that everybody wants to be in and this is the position we want to be in. So we've just got to see what happens and stressed that his team can't change it's approach."

"I'm not going to do anything different," Harvick said.

"You're going to go out and you're going to race just like everybody else is going to race. You can't make your car go faster, you can't make it slower, you can't pit at different times. You can't do anything different than what you've done."

"I think it's the most competitive that we have ever been as far as speed and the things that you need to race for wins, and in order to win the championship. I feel you're going to have to finish in the top five a lot, and you're going to have to win a race or two to make that happen."

That brings you right back to Harvick's consistency over the regular season.

While Harvick is my pick to win the Chase for the Sprint Cup. I'm not thinking about the title just yet. I want to see Harvick set himself up over the next 10 races to be at Homestead with a shot at the title.

That's all that you can ask for as a fan.

Lastly, I think we'll finally see a chase were it'll come down to Homestead to determine who wins the title, and isn't that how it was supposed to be in the chase era?

Sources for quotes: scenedaily.com, NASCAR.com, and speedtv.com

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