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2016 Season in Review: Kevin Harvick

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Kevin Harvick

CREW CHIEF: Rodney Childers

TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing

POINTS: 8th

WINS: 4

LAPS LED: 1,384 – third-most in his career, but far below 2015 (2,294 laps) and 2014 (2,137 laps)

TOP 5s: 17 (second-best of career after 23 in 2015)

TOP 10s: 27 (second-best of career after 28 in 2015)

POLES: 2 (Charlotte II and Homestead)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Harvick had another stellar year. In his three seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing, he’s amassed 12 wins, one championship and one runner-up finish in the Chase (also finished eighth in 2016). … Even though Tony Stewart was the co-owner of the team, there’s no question that Harvick continued as the star of the four-driver team (Harvick, Stewart, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick) for the third consecutive season.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Harvick missed the final round of the Chase for the first time since the new format was introduced in 2014. His eighth-place finish was his lowest showing since finishing eighth in 2012 while with Richard Childress Racing. … Costly errors on pit road hampered Harvick at times, contributing to why he wasn’t able to reach the final round. … The costliest episode for Harvick in the Chase was at Martinsville. He came into that race tied for the lead in the points after the second round finale at Talladega, but finished 20th at Martinsville, dropping him to sixth in the standings. Even though he finished sixth at Texas and fourth at Phoenix, it wasn’t enough to get him over the hump and he missed qualifying for the Championship 4 finale at Homestead (ironically, he won the pole there and finished third).

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2017: Honestly, we don’t know what to expect in 2017, as Stewart-Haas Racing switches from Chevrolet power to Ford engines. Harvick has only driven a Chevy since he came to the Sprint Cup Series in 2001. The team will go it alone in developing the motors and bodies instead of linking with other Ford teams such as Team Penske or Roush Fenway Racing. SHR will also start an Xfinity Series team. When teams switch manufacturers, there’s oftentimes a deep learning curve. While SHR has some of the best minds in the sport, don’t be surprised if Harvick, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and newcomer Clint Bowyer (replaces the retired Tony Stewart) all get off to slow starts.

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NASCAR America: NASCAR’s stars hit the track for the ‘Little 600’ (video)

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Like more than three dozen of his NASCAR Cup counterparts, Joey Logano is gearing up for the longest race of the year, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

To warm up, Logano, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. and other NASCAR drivers headed to the GoPro Motorplex in North Carolina for the “Little 600.”

Check out how they fared in the above video that was on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

 

Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — Kevin Harvick will start on the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, marking the second consecutive race at Charlotte Motor Speedway he has led the field to the green flag.

Harvick, a two-time Coke 600 winner, earned the top starting spot Thursday night with a lap of 193.424 mph in his Ford. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch, who won last weekend’s All-Star Race.

Chase Elliott starts third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Erik Jones.

Points leader Kyle Larson will start 39th in the 40-car field after not making a qualifying attempt. He hit the wall in practice and then his team couldn’t get through qualifying inspection until one minute remained in the opening round of the session. The team was unable to get Larson out of the garage in time to make an attempt.

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Slugger Labbe: How do crew chiefs prepare for grueling Coca-Cola 600? (video)

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Veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe stopped by the NASCAR America studio in Charlotte on Thursday.

Labbe gave his perspective on how NASCAR Cup crew chiefs will prepare for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. While the race length will be the same as it has been for decades, one significant change will have crew chiefs developing strategy that they’ve never had to deal with in the 600, namely, four different race stages.

Labbe also gave his take on the positives and negatives of the Laser Inspection Station for both pre- and post-race inspections.

Check out the above video.

NASCAR: Remembering Martin Truex Jr.’s dominating 2016 Coca-Cola 600 win

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In one of the most dominating performances in NASCAR history, Martin Truex Jr. turned last year’s Coca-Cola 600 into a runaway one-man show, leading the field for 392 of 400 laps.

Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America took a look back at Truex’s record-setting win.

Check out the video above.