Kevin Harvick NASCAR Title Odds Shorten For Solid Value
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Kevin Harvick has won a NASCAR Cup Series championship before. The way the 2014 champ is looking these days a second title seems within reach.
Harvick scored eight victories last season and along with Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. was considered a member of the “Big 3,” a trio that combined for 20 victories over the 36-race schedule. All three made it to Homestead-Miami Speedway as part of the Championship 4 race that decides the crown, ultimately falling short behind eventual champ Joey Logano.
But Harvick’s overall numbers were spectacular with his eight victories, 23 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes, four poles and a series-leading 1,990 laps led.
The bar was set high for this season and most considered Harvick to pick up where he left off. But it hasn’t completely turned out that way. While there was speed in Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, good finishes and trips to victory lane were not coming at the pace of the previous year. Some bad luck, mistakes on pit road and Harvick working to get the handle of the new rules package that has significantly changed the way cars drive and handle teamed up for a potent challenge.
However, as the year rolls on there are definite signs Harvick is starting to get things back together. He won two races in four weeks with victories at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway. Maybe more impressively is how Harvick has returned to his winning ways by combing fast cars with solid teamwork and pit strategy, much as he did in the eight-win 2018 campaign.
Suddenly Harvick’s odds of winning this year’s title went from +600 to +450 in the aftermath of his performance uptick. It shouldn’t be a blip on the radar. Harvick has spoken about his better understanding of how the car reacts under the new rules package. Rather than having to relearn those skills, as was the case in the first half of the season, Harvick can fine-tune his talent with that knowledge as the series makes return visits to a number of tracks.
Harvick isn’t 16th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list by accident. He has figured out ways to win under a number of different technical parameters. His track record shows that, once he gets comfortable behind the wheel, success follows.
He has won at all the tracks left in the regular season including Bristol Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Even if he does not win again again before the postseason rolls around in mid-September at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his stage wins and playoff points will benefit Harvick once the standings get re-racked for the championship run.
Harvick has won two of the last five races held at Las Vegas, so his chances of getting the playoff schedule off on a positive note are strong. In fact, Harvick has won at every track that makes up the 10-race playoff schedule.
Final Races Might Favor Harvick
But the most important statistic to put into play in assessing Harvick’s championship odds are the final two stops of the playoff calendar: ISM Raceway in Phoenix and Homestead.
Harvick has been virtually unstoppable at the one-mile Phoenix track. He ran there for years in lower divisions as a young West Coast racer before moving into NASCAR’s top tier. Almost immediately Harvick succeeded putting wins and numbers up there at nearly a record clip. His Cup Series resume at Phoenix is impeccable – nine wins, 16 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes in 33 career starts.
He won four straight races from 2013-2015 and has finished in the top-10 in 14 of the last 15 races held at the track. Since that race ends the third round of the playoffs and determines the final four drivers who move on to the Homestead title race, Harvick will be the odds-on favorite to be one of that quartet when Phoenix rolls around in mid-November.
His record at Homestead is equally impressive. He won the 2014 finale to clinch his championship and since has not finished worse than fourth. Harvick’s experience dealing with the pressure and style of racing for the crown in the championship-deciding race is also a plus for the veteran’s shot at a second title.
Toss in the leadership and strategy provided by crew chief Rodney Childers along with support and resources of Stewart-Haas Racing and Kevin Harvick is a strong choice to win the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship.