Road to the Championship Round: Kevin Harvick

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Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will race for the Sprint Cup championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway on NBC.

Harvick has again been one of the dominant drivers this season, leading a series-high 2,248 laps and scoring 15 top-two finishes.

Here’s how he got here:

REACHED FINAL: Via points (scored most of the four title contenders in the third round)

2016 VICTORIES: 3 (Las Vegas, Phoenix I, Dover II)

TOP 10s: 27

AVG. FINISH IN CHASE: 12.2

LAPS LED IN CHASE: 798

AVG. FINISH AT 1.5-MILE TRACKS IN 2016: 8.7

LAST YEAR’S HOMESTEAD FINISH: Won to claim championship

OUTLOOK: The reigning series champ returns to Miami as the favorite. He’s been strong all season but has been particularly impressive at 1.5-mile tracks. Take out his 42nd-place finish – the result of contact with Jimmie Johnson – at Chicago in the opening Chase race, and Harvick’s average finish on 1.5-mile tracks this season would be 5.6.

QUOTE: “You just go down there and race. Last year I got to experience that all for the first time. It’s definitely, definitely different. It’s definitely ‑‑ there’s a lot more to think about.  There’s a lot more to do. There’s a lot more things to manage. I feel like the playbook worked okay last year, so we’ll just try that again.’’

DUSTIN LONG SAYS: This team’s ability to bounce back after issues throughout the Chase is why Harvick has a chance for a second consecutive title. Another crown would cap the most dominating two-year run since Jimmie Johnson won five consecutive championships. In an era of close competition, Harvick has finished first or second in 36.6 percent of the Sprint Cup races since last year.

NATE RYAN SAYS: He’d be an overwhelming favorite if his team suddenly hadn’t become so impervious during the playoffs in a parade of driver error, mechanical problems and pit miscues. The reigning series champion showed a knack for overcoming adversity, and Stewart-Haas Racing has shored up the quality control (switching transmissions in his No. 4 Chevrolet). Having been the car to beat for much of the season, the defending winner of the Ford 400 will enter the finale as the smart-money pick for the championship.