Kevin Harvick has had a season to remember. Eight wins, 22 top-fives, 28 top 10s, four poles, and 1,932 laps led earned him the season’s highest driver rating at 115.2. It also led to him being tabbed as one of The Big Three.
There’s no question Harvick’s performance dramatically improved after moving from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Hass Racing in 2014. In fact, he immediately won his first championship the first season after the change.
Recently, Harvick’s team has been under fire for apparently modifying the spoiler on the No. 4 SHR Ford. An act that earned him an L1 penalty and ultimately took away his locked in status for the Championship 4 leaving him to have to earn his way in again.
The additional media attention and pressure could kill the momentum of some teams, but not Harvick’s. Harvick utilizes these situations as giving them something to prove. Having the proverbial chip on their shoulder pushes the team to stronger performance.
“I feel like we race with a chip on our shoulder every week. For me, there’s always some incentive in proving people that you can do something that isn’t what they think you should do. I think as you look ‑‑ you can look at my whole career ‘You shouldn’t win’ ‘You couldn’t win’ Then you did”, said Harvick. “Last week it was, ‘This penalty is going to slow them down’. Like I told you last week, when they take 10 away, we find 20. It’s just the mentality of the race team. It’s always ‘push the limits’. When they back you against the wall, make it better than it was before. I think up until the flat tire, that was the pace that it was on to do.”
One would think after such a tremendous season, if a team were to fail to close the deal and win the title, it could do serious damage to the morale of the team. For the SHR No. 4 team, however, it would be hard, but no the end of the world.
“Obviously with everything that’s happened this year, you want to win the championship because obviously you think it would be icing on the cake with everything that you’ve accomplished. But it’s just not that easy. Coming here this time of the season, just like us last year, we didn’t run well in the first half of the season. You look at the 22 car, they didn’t run well in the first half of the season. They came on late and have done well”, said Harvick. “ Obviously, that’s the goal, is to go out and try to win the championship. I don’t know that it would be. There’s nothing that’s going to devastate us to the point of not being able to function any more. But to go along with everything you’ve done this year, it definitely would seem fitting to add that to the year end.”
Harvick has earned the moniker of “the closer”. He will attempt to close out a strong 2019 season Sunday at Homestead-Miami Raceway.