Harvick gets much needed top 10 at Phoenix but why restarts are keeping him from wins now

Kevin Harvick still doesn’t have a win in this new reconfiguration of the Phoenix Raceway. He’s 0-for-7 in fact. In fact, in a second year span between 2012 and 2017, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver had seven of his track record nine wins including two more runner-ups.

Furthermore, in those 14 races, he had 12 top five finishes. But, over the last seven, he has just two top fives including none in his last four.

However, a sixth place finish for the second straight year in Sunday’s Ruoff Mortgage 500, is more encouraging than you’d think.

Harvick won nine times in 2020 but all came in the first 29 races. In fact, if you go back to the end of the 2019 season, he had 10 wins in 32 starts. But, over his last 47 starts, he’s been shutout. He was only 30th, 7th and 12th so far this year entering this weekend, so Phoenix would tell a lot about the rest of 2022.

Harvick, only qualified 16th but quickly moved his way forward. He was eighth at the end of the second stage and third at the conclusion of the second one. He was in striking distance.

The California native restarted second on the second to last restart but was passed and went to third. Then, that caution for Chase Elliott came with nine to go and instead of being fourth like he was at that point, he faded to sixth.

“It was a good day for us,” Harvick said. “Restarts weren’t 100% our strong point. We had a bit of a brake shake issue that kept pulling the car to the right under braking so I couldn’t get into corners like I wanted to. Still a good day and the car ran good. I just couldn’t really connect all the corners altogether through the day. Putting a (Stewart-Haas Racing) car in Victory Lane and running inside the top five all day for us is always a good day.”

A word I circle there is restarts. He said the same after the Vegas race too.

“We struggled with traffic on the restarts, but we worked through it and everyone on the crew did a good job,” Harvick said then.

He now has 18 straight top 10’s on this racetrack and if he can figure out the restarts, watch out.

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