For so long, NASCAR broadcasters liked to call Kevin Harvick “The Closer.” Remember his RCR days where his cars would be lousy in qualifying, and somehow Harvick would find a way to win? In recent lore, it hasn’t worked that way for the 2014 Sprint Cup champion.
Check this out: coming into Sunday’s race at Bristol, Kevin Harvick had nine top fives and 17 top 10s. 17 in 22 races! In terms of consistency, Harvick has been right there with Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. The difference? Rowdy and Bad Brad have parlayed those strong runs into wins, as both lead the NSCS with four victories thus far. Harvick? The driver who also piled up a truckload of second place finishes in 2015 only had one.
Nobody busts on Kevin Harvick more than yours truly for his tendency to whine or put the blame for adversity on somebody else. With that said, he’s been right more often than not for bad pit stops and other scenarios out of his hands that have led to disappointment.
Post-race both Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers spoke of not beating themselves at Bristol. The funny part was that this was a race where “Happy” wasn’t good in qualifying. He admits- though it drives Childers crazy- he enjoys passing cars. Harvick was perfectly comfortable with the racing surface, he got out front and stayed there.
He spoke of the confidence that a win breeds. It’s one thing to know that you’re good enough to contend. It’s quite another to close the deal. Kevin Harvick and Company closed the deal. What the stats tell us is that the number four Chevrolet has been good all season. Now there’s that extra measure of belief that can be so critical in such a competitive field.
While Joe Gibbs Racing has been leading the way, and Roger Penske’s gang has been right in their wake, Kevin Harvick and the team from Stewart-Haas Racing have been the standard bearer for Chevy, given the well-documented struggles of Hendrick Motorsports. If there’s any credence to the notion of peaking at the right time, look out. That number four Chevrolet will be hard to shake.