Steven B. Wilson
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With the NASCAR Sprint Cup regular season drawing to a close, and the 10-race Chase fast approaching, there has been a misconception that Kevin Harvick has been in a slump.
His only wins of the 2015 season came back in March, when he took the honours at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway in consecutive races.
by Chad Sparkes
But all that seems a long time ago, and since then the likes of Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano have been grabbing the headlines, while Dale Earnhardt Junior and Brad Keselowski have kept themselves in the running.
But there is a good reason that the latest Sprint Cup odds are favourable towards Harvick. The reason is the supreme level of consistency he has achieved during a season when it’s fair to say he hasn’t always been tearing up tree stumps.
At Bristol on August 22, Logano was the man in the spotlight as he led for 176 masterful laps, and Harvick was forced to drive in his shadow in order to finish second.
But what many people forgot that night was that Harvick’s achievement was greater than it seemed. Indeed, he had just claimed his 10th second-place finish of the season.
Across all 24 races this season, Harvick has achieved 17 top-five finishes, and Bristol was not the only race in which he was narrowly edged out by an outstanding performance. There have been more than a few occasions where Harvick could count himself unlucky not to have taken the win.
If he continues in this vein of form, Harvick will stand a good chance of breaking Jeff Gordon’s record for the most top-10 NASCAR race finishes in the modern era, which he set with his 30 top 10s in the 2007 season.
There may be some lessons Harvick can learn from that fateful 2007 season for Jeff Gordon, when he led the Sprint Cup standings with five races remaining, only to see Johnson claim four back-to-back wins and clinch the championship. Somehow, despite setting a record for top-10 finishes, including six wins, Gordon ended second on points.
But Harvick himself will have few doubts about his own ability and he will need no reassurances. He will know in his own mind that he has been driving just as well this season as he did last season, when he won his first career championship for Stewart-Haas Racing team, in a Chevrolet that seemed to outstrip every other car on the track week in, week out.