Kevin Harvick Makes History, Makes Statement

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Mission accomplished. After all hoo ha about his win at Las Vegas, Kevin Harvick determined he would race with a purpose at Phoenix. While he didn’t have a dominant car, Happy did what he does best: get close and take over at the end.

In doing so, Kevin Harvick scored his 40th career victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. That ties the 42-year old from the Bakersfield area with Mark Martin. For those of you keep track, among the hundreds who’ve donned firesuits in the NASCAR Cup Series, he’s now tied for 18th.

The win is Kevin Harvick’s third straight, a feat only 13 others have accomplished in the series. In recent memory, you’d have to go back to 2015 and that mid-summer run by Kyle Busch to find a streak like this. Of course, it bears noting that Busch won a championship that year.

Referring to his “haters” in a trackside interview, Kevin Harvick was eager to prove that his four car did not need dented windows to win races. Point taken. A win under sketchy circumstances is one thing, but it’s quite another to win three in a row. There’s no way in today’s NASCAR you can “cheat” three races in a row and get away with it. Let’s be clear that at any given race, there’s plenty of pushing the envelope and coloring outside the lines. To act like Kevin Harvick is the only beneficiary of a little gamesmanship is to blind your eyes to fouls called in recent history against Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., etc., etc. Of course, to hear some tell it, Jimmie Johnson’s entire career is tainted. Believe it if you will.

Last week, I opined that the penalties levied against Kevin Harvick and his team wouldn’t have much bearing on his season, I’d say we would be wise not to go engraving the Cup trophy just yet. Yes, this run he’s on now is impressive and uncommon. It most certainly means that Stewart-Haas Racing has their ducks in a row where the early 2018 campaign is concerned. In case you haven’t noticed, Kurt Busch was running quite well Sunday, and Aric Almirola is enjoying a more consistent success in the 10 car. Clint Bowyer finished sixth and is currently sitting in ninth in the season standings. This is no anomaly.

By the same token, remember that Jeff Gordon had a hot streak going in 2007 that did not result in a championship. Kyle Busch dominating the summer of 2008, but Jimmie Johnson prevailed at season’s end. Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin all had some really good runs that did not culminate in a title. All of that to say there’s a lot of season to go in 2018. Kevin Harvick will have plenty of competition.

Having said that, be aware that Kevin Harvick is in an excellent position to win at Auto Club this Sunday. It’s been seven years since his last win at Fontana, but the recent success at intermediate tracks bears good prospects for the 2014 champion.

Yes, Kevin Harvick, I see you too. To clarify, I am a critic of your behavior, not a hater, and not dismissive of your talent. Just remember what Earnhardt said, whether they’re booing or cheering, you have their attention.