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.
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.”