Harvick keeps the happy momentum going

NKP #4: Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Mobil 1

If momentum translates to a championship push, then Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick must be feeling plenty of good vibes as he arrives in Las Vegas to begin the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

Last weekend he won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis from the Busch Pole position, leading a race best 118 of the race’s 160 laps. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford has earned all three of his victories (at New Hampshire, Michigan-2 and Indy) in the last seven races of the season. He also has nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes on the year.

His five pole positions is most in the series and his 712 laps led on the year is third-best – behind only regular season champion Kyle Busch (1,166 laps led) and fellow three-race winner Brad Keselowski (966 laps led).

The first of Harvick’s five pole positions this year came at the first trip to Las Vegas, a track where he has two wins in the last six races. His 540 laps out front at the 1.5-miler is second only to four-time Vegas winner Jimmie Johnson’s 595 laps led. He’s led laps in six of the last seven races there. And in his March, 2018 victory led a dominating 214 of the race’s 267 laps – the most laps ever led at the track in a Cup race.

Harvick has qualified for the Championship 4 every year – hoisting the first Cup trophy in the current elimination style of the Playoffs in 2014. Last year that title opportunity came despite a rough Vegas playoff opener, where Harvick was involved in a mid-race crash and finished 39th out of 40 cars.

“I think we’ve definitely made some strides in getting where – closer to where we want to be,’’ Harvick said of his recent success on the season. “I think we still have some things that we have to work on at certain styles of race tracks. But this is survive and advance and you don’t necessarily have to have the fastest car.

“We had the fastest car (at Indy), maybe not the best handling car, but we survived and really a day like today is a lot like how you’re going to have to approach every race in the playoffs.’’

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