NASCAR Sprint Cup at Talladega: 5 Reasons Why Kevin Harvick Is Title-Worthy
When Kevin Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet received damage in an accident involving Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton on Lap 134 of Sunday's Amp Energy Juice 500 at Talladega, it appeared as if all hope was lost for the Richard Childress Racing team to salvage a great finish.
Even though Talladega Superspeedway may be the easiest track to gain and lose positions in the blink of an eye, even the slightest of damage to the front of a car may prove fatal for one's hopes of having a successful day.
Due to the impressive work by the No. 29 crew on the front end of the car, however, Harvick was able to move through the pack in the later stages of the race, coming just inches short of winning his third consecutive restrictor-plate race.
While Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin continue their tight points battle, here are five reasons why Kevin Harvick should not be dismissed from contention for the 2010 Sprint Cup title.
1. Harvick's Only 36 Points Behind Jimmie Johnson
Even though Harvick held the points lead for virtually the entire season heading into the Chase, he seemed to fly under the radar in a similar fashion as Matt Kenseth's 2003 title campaign.
Harvick has a career-high 23 top-10 finishes this season, and his three wins are the most the Bakersfield, California native has had in a season since his five-win campaign in 2006.
Because of his consistency, it's possible that "Happy" could win the Chase without a victory in the ten-race playoff.
2. Kevin Harvick, Inc. Is Having an Off Year
In a strange twist this season, Harvick's success in the Sprint Cup Series has been balanced by the relative struggles his self-owned team is having in the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series.
Over the past two seasons, Harvick has had to supervise over Ron Hornaday's back-to-back title reigns in the Truck Series. This season, Hornaday never proved to be a title threat, currently running sixth in the point standings.
Instead of helping Hornaday achieve success, Harvick can place all of his focus towards the biggest championship run of his career.
3. Richard Childress Has Six Titles As an Owner
Of course, Richard Childress has six titles as an owner from Dale Earnhardt's tragically shortened tenure with the RCR operation.
While it certainly helped to have the "Intimidator" behind the wheel, Childress built an exceptional pit crew around the driver, with Andy Petree and Larry McReynolds among his crew chiefs.
Gil Martin seems to be built from the same vein, as his preparedness Sunday helped the team not only stay in title contention—it cut over 100 points from the No. 29's deficit.
4. Harvick Has Kept His Cool
Remember this incident between Harvick and Joey Logano in Pocono last June?
This season, Harvick has let his on-track actions do the talking. The out-spoken, grumpy driver known as "Happy" is nowhere to be seen.
For example, Harvick didn't show any visible anger when coming down pit road for repairs Sunday. Instead, he translated that anger into one of the most impressive performances at Talladega in quite some time—even if he did come just short.
5. Harvick Has Run Well at The Final Three Tracks
While Harvick has seven top-10 finishes in 15 starts at Texas, he has finished in the top quarter of the field in three of the past four races in Fort Worth.
Even though "Happy" hasn't finished in the top-10 at Phoenix since 2008, he swept both races at the track in 2006.
Finally, Harvick has seven top-10 finishes in nine races at Homestead, including a third-place finish last season.
Do you think Harvick has a shot at winning the Chase? Comment below.
Ryan Papaserge is a junior Journalism/Mass Communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a writing intern at Bleacher Report.