Kevin Harvick’s performance in this year’s Chase defines the word “solid.”
The driver of the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet won at Kansas, finished six times among the top 10 and has completed all 2,595 laps of the eight races for an average finish of 7.4.
Solid – at least this year – doesn’t equal success. Entering Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Harvick finds himself on the cusp of championship elimination. The Bakersfield, Calif., veteran, third in the standings, is 40 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
Harvick doesn’t control his own destiny. All he can do is win out – then hope Johnson and current runner-up Matt Kenseth suffer stumbles of historic proportions.
Winning on Sunday might be the easiest part of the equation. Last fall’s Chase race was Harvick’s third victory at the one-mile track. He’s won four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races as well as a NASCAR Nationwide Series event in the Valley of the Sun.
“We really did well at Phoenix last year and also ran well there earlier this season, but we didn’t play the strategy game correctly at the end and lost the track position we needed,” said Harvick, who finished 13th in March. “The track is still racy enough where you can make up time if your car is good, but you need to stay focused on strategy.”
Harvick has the track’s fifth-best Driver Rating (99.0), fifth-fastest average green flag speed of 125.133 mph and fifth-most laps run in the top 15 (4,035/75.0%).
Sunday’s race will be Harvick’s next-to-final start for Richard Childress Racing before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. Harvick has finished among the top five in the championship standings in five of his 12 seasons with bests of third in 2010 and 2011.