Cup Championship 4 profile: Kevin Harvick

Leave a comment

Kevin Harvick was the first driver to win the championship under the current Cup playoff elimination format in 2014.

He’s reached the championship round in three of its four years.

Now he looks to become the first multi-time winner under the new format.

It has been a season more of consistency than spectacular outings for Harvick. He comes to Miami with two wins, fewest of the four championship contenders, but is second to only Martin Truex Jr. in top-10 finishes (25 to 22).

Also of note, Harvick’s two wins are his fewest since 2012, when he won only one race. While he hasn’t lived up to his nickname of “The Closer” as much as in past seasons, it has still been a good season for the driver of the No. 4.

That Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing are in the championship round in their first year after transitioning from Chevrolet to Ford power is a testament to the team’s ability to make changes and its versatility.

It also means a lot to Ford, which has two entries in the championship round, as does Toyota, but can claim bragging rights over Chevrolet, which has no cars vying for the championship.

KEVIN HARVICK

Crew chief: Rodney Childers

2017 wins: 2 (Sonoma, Texas II)

2017 Top 10s: 22

Laps Led: 850 (fourth in series)

Championship 4 history: Won it in 2014; Made it in 2015, finished third.

Memorable race: Passed Martin Truex Jr. with 10 laps to go nearly two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway and continued to the checkered flag. It was Harvick’s first career Cup win at TMS.

Playoff march: Started march to Miami with third-place finish at Chicagoland; had five top-five finishes – including win at Texas – in first nine races. Win at Texas in Round of 8 punched his ticket to Miami.

Why Harvick will win the title: Homestead-Miami Speedway is one of his favorite and more successful tracks. Has finished first (2014), second (2015) and third (2016) in last three races there and has 14 top-10 finishes in 16 starts there. Also, Childers is one of the top crew chiefs in the sport.

Why Harvick won’t win the title: Ford was dominant early in the season, winning five of the first 10 races, including the Daytona 500. But since, Toyota has won 14 races since (15 overall), including seven of the first nine playoff races. Truex and Busch will have to be taken out or suffer mechanical failure for Harvick to have a chance at the title.

What Steve Letarte says: “Kevin Harvick is my favorite. … The 4 of Kevin Harvick, Rodney Childers on the pit box, has really been magical since being put together at Stewart-Haas Racing years back. They’ve already won one championship and I really think they’ve been off the radar purely because of the transition to Ford. … I don’t think there’s a driver more mentally savvy, mentally tough than Kevin Harvick when it comes to Miami.”

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick still No. 1 after quiet Vegas

Leave a comment

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.

More: Playoff standings after Las Vegas

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.

NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

Leave a comment

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. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck 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)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

Leave a comment

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.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

Leave a comment

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.

Cup playoff standings