CREW CHIEF: Rodney Childers
TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing
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.
Kevin Harvick didn’t have a flashy night Sunday in Las Vegas, but it didn’t keep him from retaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings.
After winning the Bristol night race, Harvick finished in the top 10 in the first two stages in Vegas before placing 10th at race’s end.
Kurt Busch’s win at his home track vaulted him into the top 10 as 12 drivers received votes.
Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:
1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): In the last eight races he’s won three times and finished outside the top 10 only twice.
2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 5): Placed fourth for his 11th top-five finish in the last 14 races.
3. Alex Bowman (Last week unranked): Finished fifth for his second top five and fifth top-10 finish in the last six races.
4. Denny Hamlin (Last week unranked): Left Vegas with a third-place finish to snap a three-race streak of finishing outside the top 10.
5. Kurt Busch (Last week unranked): Snapped a 46-race winless streak with his victory and advanced to the Round of 8.
6. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 3): Finished sixth after a “dismal” night. He has four consecutive top 10s.
7. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): Finished 13th to give him two finishes outside the top 10 since he won at Richmond.
8. Chase Briscoe (Last week unranked): Opened the Xfinity playoffs with his second consecutive win.
8. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 2): Led 73 laps, but had to settle for a 22nd-place finish in Vegas.
8. Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Finished 14th for his second straight finish outside the top 10.
Also receiving votes: Erik Jones and Chris Buescher.
Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.
The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.
The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.
Here are the changes.
Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ET – ARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)
Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ET – Truck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)
Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET – Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.
His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.
Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.
Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).
Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.
Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.
Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.
Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.
“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”
Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).
Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.