Kevin Harvick conceded two weeks ago that maybe his 2019 Playoff push would benefit from better timing. Last year he had a career-high eight-win season but had won five of those before the midpoint of the regular season. This year, Harvick seems to be peaking just in time for the 10-race Playoff.
The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford has won two of the last five races, three of the last eight. He won the Indianapolis regular season finale from the pole position and led a dominating 118 laps. Last week he led 47 laps and finished runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. in the Las Vegas Playoff opener.
Harvick shows up at Richmond Raceway ranked second in the points – tying his best points position of the year (he was ranked second for two of the season’s opening three weeks). And more bad news for competition: Harvick is the highest rated Playoff driver at Richmond.
He has three wins – the last in May 2013, won four pole positions, and earned a series best 24 top 10s and 15 top fives in 37 starts. He has finished top 10 in 64.8 percent of his starts. His seven Xfinity Series victories is most all-time, and he tied an amazing statistic – winning three Xfinity races in a row (2005-06) – to equal a mark set by Harry Gant in 1991-92.
Harvick is currently on a seven-race streak of top-10 finishes at Richmond and was runner-up to Kyle Busch in this Playoff race last year. He’s led laps in four of the last five Richmond races and twice – in 2006 (272 laps) and 2011 (202 laps) – led more than half the race total laps.
“I think the back-up plan is to survive and advance, but we want to win,’’ Harvick said. “We want to be racing for the lead and trying to win stages and be aggressive. I think being aggressive is just going to bite you less than kind of being passive and just trying to mediocre your way into the next round by looking at points.’’