There’s no question, if the season championship for the NASCAR Cup Series went to the best car and the best driver this year, then go ahead and give the title to Kevin Harvick right now. No one won as many races in 2020 as Kevin Harvick did in his No. 4 Ford. His nine trips to victory lane put him on tops for most in NASCAR’s premiere series.
Now, he’s hoping to get a 10th victory on Sunday in Phoenix. If he can do so, he will not only join an elite group of drivers to have won at least 10 times in a NASCAR season. But, he won’t win a championship though.
If he wins at Phoenix Sunday, he will join Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip as a member of the 10-win club.
And Harvick would not be the first driver to win 10 races and not win the championship. It’s happened several times before.
Bobby Allison 1972
Richard Petty 1974 (won championship)
Cale Yarborough 1974
David Pearson 1976
Cale Yarborough 1978 (won championship)
Rusty Wallace 1993
Jeff Gordon 1996
Jeff Gordon 1997 (won championship)
Jimmie Johnson 2007 (won championship)
David Pearson 1973
Bill Elliott 1985
Dale Earnhardt 1987 (won championship)
Darrell Waltrip 1981 (won championship)
Darrell Waltrip 1982 (won championship)
Richard Petty 1975 (won championship)
Jeff Gordon 1998 (won championship)
Harvick, was eliminated last round in Martinsville following a rough race. He had contract on Lap 180 with Matt Kenseth and lost two laps after having to pit for a left rear flat as a result of that incident. He got one of the two laps back four laps later for a caution, but it took until 101 laps remaining to get the other. With Chase Elliott who was outside of the cut line winning and Harvick scoring no stage points and finishing 17th, he was eliminated.
That’s crazy that the best he can finish is fifth in the standings as we head to his best statistical track.
No one has reached the double digits in the win column in a single season in Cup since Jimmie Johnson (10 wins) in 2007. Prior to that, Jeff Gordon did that in a three year span consecutively. He won 10 races each in 1996 and again in 1997 before 13 wins in 1998.
Harvick, had such a good season, but hasn’t won since the first round when he won two of the three races in the Round of 16.
But, this is time for Harvick to show his might and end the year on a high note.
Harvick, has made it to the Championship 4 in all but two years now of this formats existence. That happened in 2016 and 2020. Every other year, he’s came into the season finale with a shot at the championship.
There’s no doubt about it, Harvick is a future Hall of Famer. He’s won the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, the Brickyard 400, the Southern 500, the Bristol Night Race and the All-Star race.
Plus, this is a race at arguably his best track on the schedule.
Harvick, has scored a top 10 finish in literally every race at Phoenix since Rodney Childers became his crew chief at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 (14 starts). Among those 14 races, Harvick’s finished first or second eight times including back in March.
Harvick, paced the field for 67 of the 316 laps run on the 1-mile Arizona oval that day. The problem though, Harvick hit pit lane on Lap 268 for the final time of the race. That marred him back to 10th which was the deficit that Joey Logano needed to win the race instead of Harvick’s No. 4 Ford.
”(Logano) just had control of the race,” Harvick said after scoring his 18th top five finish in Phoenix, a track record. “After we pitted there, I got stuck behind a couple of cars there, lost five or six spots. He got by and got control of the race. He got to restart where he wanted to. Our Jimmy John’s Ford was better, especially when we could put it in front of his. We just didn’t get the control of the race back there, and he was able to get by us on that restart where I got hung up.”
The proverbial “king of the desert” has been astounding in Phoenix overall still too. Since 2012, Harvick has seven wins alone to go along with 10 top two finishes (17 tries). Furthermore, Harvick has finished worse than sixth just twice in those 17 starts too.
Harvick can became the ninth different driver to have won nine or more times at a single track when he won in 2018 at Phoenix Raceway. Now he can attempt to become just the sixth driver to win 10 or more races at a single track with a win this weekend.
I think Harvick goes out and tries to dominate to become the first driver since 2013 to win the final race of the season but not the championship. A win on Sunday would show that if he just made it past the Round of 8, the title would have been hist and a way to show the NASCAR fan base that stats are judged differently now.