Kevin Harvick finds himself in an unfamiliar position as he arrives at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series finale.
Since the inception of the elimination format in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoff in 2014, the driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has never come to Homestead out of the Championship 4. He advanced to the final race in both 2014 and 2015, winning the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship and finishing runner-up to Kyle Busch in 2015.
However, this year’s 10-race Chase did not go as planned for the Bakersfield, California native after he suffered several setbacks in each round, but managed to advance by winning a race in each of the first two rounds and remaining in contention until his fourth-place finish last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway knocked him out of the Round of 8.
Now, Harvick and the No. 4 team have only one priority when it comes to finishing out their season – win. The team has scored four wins through the first 35 points-paying Sprint Cup races of 2016. One additional win in the season finale would equal his single-season best, which he accomplished by winning five races each in 2006 and 2014.
This season, Harvick has managed to win races on the half-mile oval at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, the mile ovals at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Phoenix, and the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
The No. 4 Jimmy John’s team finished first and second at Homestead the past two seasons, capturing the win in 2014 by .500 of a second over runner-up Ryan Newman in 2014, and finishing runner-up to 2015 champion Kyle Busch by 1.552 seconds in 2015.
Harvick has only finished outside the top-10 at Homestead twice in his 15 career Sprint Cup starts. He has one win, three runner-up finishes, two third-place finishes and eight consecutive top-10s with an average finish of 7.2. In the last 10 Sprint Cup races at Homestead, Harvick has the best average finish at 6.1, and his 964 points rank second only to Carl Edwards’ 985.
Harvick and the No. 4 team are motivated to finish on a high note and would love to do that by standing in victory lane one final time to close out the 2016 season.