Each fact, each figure seems to lose a little bit of its stunning quality as the exceptional becomes the norm with Kevin Harvick.
Take a moment and consider all that he’s done lately. His 10 top-two finishes in the season’s first 14 races ties a mark set by Hall of Famer Bobby Allison in 1972 – three years before Harvick was born.
In the last 20 Sprint Cup races, a span of more than half a season, Harvick has an average finish of 6.4. Think about that. He’s averaging nearly a top-five finish every time he cranks the engine for a race.
Now, Harvick and the rest of the series is at Michigan International Speedway for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400. Here’s something else to consider, Harvick has finished second in each of the last four races at that track. Joey Logano is the only driver who can come close with four consecutive top-10 finishes, including a victory, during that stretch.
Showing no signs of falling off, Harvick has been fast throughout practice at Michigan and starts second.
How Harvick does is just among the storylines for Sunday’s race:
Will there be another streakbuster? Martin Truex Jr. snapped a nearly two-year winless drought with his win last weekend at Pocono Raceway. Who will be next?
Kyle Busch is winless in his last 34 Cup starts – matching his longest drought since he scored his first career series win in 2005. Jamie McMurray, seventh in the points, is winless in his last 54 series starts. Pole-sitter Kasey Kahne is winless in his last 25 starts. Ryan Newman is winless in his last 66 starts.
Good to the last drop. Fuel mileage has played a key role in numerous races at Michigan. The key for teams is to try to make the last pit stop with about 50 laps to go. The challenge is that in the last three June races at Michigan there has been either one or no cautions in the last 50 laps, which makes the gamble on fuel mileage riskier. Who will take that gamble this time?
Is this the week for Jeff Gordon? He remains winless this season but was fastest in Saturday’s final practice session. Gordon admits the frustration of this season played a role in the heated radio exchange he and crew chief Alan Gustafson had late in last weekend’s race at Pocono. Gordon has said that that team is looking for some speed at the bigger tracks. Might his crew have found it and could it lead to a win?
Ryan Blaney can start well but can he finish? He starts fifth. This is his sixth start of the season for the Wood Brothers. Three times engine failures have sidelined him before the finish, including in his last two starts at non-restrictor-plate tracks.
“It is frustrating in the moment when it happens, very frustrating,’’ Blaney said. “Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the positives of the situation but you always have to go back and look at it. We were running really well in all the races we had trouble in.’’