Harvick and team just keeping heads down and focusing on themselves right now

Kevin Harvick heads to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs after dominating not just the regular season, but the first round as well. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has reached victory lane nine times already in 2020, seven of which coming in the regular season — all of those during the pandemic (7-for-22) to go along with earning two of the three postseason victories thus far as well.

With 67 playoff points accumulated thus far, Harvick doesn’t have to really worry much about this round even with two of the tracks being Talladega and the Charlotte ROVAL at the backend of it.

“I’m not really nervous,” Harvick said of the second round of the playoffs. “I don’t think we lack any confidence. But I think as you look at every round, even this round, you had some — every race can be a challenge, and that’s how we approach it.  We’re confident that we can do what we need to do, and whether that’s good enough, you don’t know, and sometimes you have circumstances out of your control or you do something wrong and screw something up.  So you just never know.

“I think we all had a lot of faith in each other as team members, and we just go week to week and just battle and see where we’re at and go from there.”

Harvick, said the big key is for them to just keep doing what they’re doing. They can’t afford to fall out of a rhythm that’s allowed them to score 13 top five finishes in his No. 4 Ford in his last 16 starts on the season. Two of those three finishes not inside of the top five since the end of June were at both Daytona races in August. The other was a seventh place run in Richmond a couple of weeks ago.

Yeah, I think for us you just want to keep doing what you’re doing,” Harvick continued. “You don’t want to get out of rhythm, you don’t want to start thinking about what could happen or what did happen.  You just go and do what you do on a week-to-week basis, climb in the car drive it as hard as you can.  

“The guys are going to put what they think is the best setup in the car for that particular week, and everybody wants to achieve the same goal, so nobody is trying to have a bad night or a slow car.  Everybody is coming to the racetrack trying to do everything that we can, but the thing I can tell you is when things aren’t going 100 percent correctly on a race weekend, we’ve got a great group of guys on pit road, we’ve got a great group of guys back at home helping us and on the pit box and doing all the things that it takes to try to climb back in the race or strategize our way back in the race.  Sometimes those weeks, and I think Darlington is a great example of that, we just kept ourselves in the race and wound up in a position that capitalized on winning the race so that we weren’t really in contention to win.

“You just want to stay in rhythm.  It’s kind of like basketball or football and you look at the teams that get the first-week bye and then they go to the next week and it always makes me wonder if you wouldn’t just rather keep playing to stay in that rhythm because I know for us staying in the rhythm and just thinking the same way that we have all year is the best way to do it for us.”

Another layer to this is, they’re just keeping their heads down and focusing on themselves. There’s no need to look at anyone else. No need to focus on how great you are either. The prize is on Nov. 8 at Phoenix and that’s a championship trophy. They feel like they need to do everything humanly possible in house to be sure they’re not only in a position to make the Championship 4 this Fall, but also having the right mindset to win the title outright too.

I think for us, you just don’t want to read anything that’s happening in the sport, honestly, at this particular time of the year,” Harvick said. “You just want to keep your mind as clear as possible.  We’ve made a decision of how we want to think and what we want to talk about and pay attention to, and it’s us.  I know that sounds selfish, but the thing that I can tell you is it’s way less mentally exhausting than worrying about where you need to have a good race and where you need to have a bad race.  It’s how do we get the most out of this week, and once you start the race, it’s okay, what do we need to do to our car, are we good, are we bad, where do we need to work and just try to be productive and proactive of thinking towards what we need to do next.

“I don’t have the capacity to think more than one week ahead anyway, and trying to overthink things just takes way too much space in my brain for me to function during the week.”

First up this round is to Las Vegas. It’s a place Harvick has been very solid at recently with three top four finishes in his last six tries to goa long with six top eight’s in his last eight Vegas starts overall.

This weekend though, he’s not necessarily expecting to come out and win on outright pace. A track like Vegas is one that has posed problems for them in recent years too.

“I think as you look at Vegas, it’s a low-grip racetrack,” said Harvick of this weekend. “I think it’s probably been some of our races that we’ve had most of our trouble at, but we’ve figured out a way to race well and strategize well and do what we need to do, so we’re just going to go out there and battle.”

Harvick notes that they will bring a new car to Vegas and just do what they’ve been doing right lately and hope to just put themselves in a position to capitalize on stage points and see where they are in the end of it.

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