I wrote prior to last weekend’s race at the Talladega Superspeedway that Kevin Harvick has been the best driver not of the Team Penske or Joe Gibbs Racing camps at the start of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. The only reason why it doesn’t seem like it is because of how good Harvick was at this point last year.
Harvick’s best finish this year is fourth. That’s a byproduct of JGR and Penske’s hot start. But, what if I told you that Harvick has just one less number of top-10 finishes (seven) through the season’s opening 10 races as he did last year (eight)?
Three of those top-10s last year were victories and the 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion is still looking for his first trophy of 2019. Since 2013, he’s only gone winless through the opening 11 races of a season once – 2017, when he scored his first victory at the summertime Sonoma, Calif. road course race (No. 16 on the schedule).
Kevin Harvick grimaced answering reporters’ questions last weekend following an early and unexpected exit from the Talladega Superspeedway race. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver and perennial championship contender was collected in a wreck only 11 laps into last Sunday’s event and suffered a season worse 38th-place finish.
But Harvick arrives at Dover International Speedway, the defending race winner of Sunday’s Gander RV 400 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and more than ready to correct his season trajectory.
He led a series best 487 laps in the two 2018 races on the Monster Mile, winning in the spring and finishing sixth during the Fall Playoff race. He has six top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 36 starts – earning five top-10s since joining SHR in 2014.
In 2015, Harvick led an amazing 355 of the 400 laps to earn his first victory at Dover. During a five race stretch from 2014-16, he led 810 laps at the track – 56% of his 1,442-career total.
Harvick crashed out in both of this season’s superspeedway races (in the season-opening Daytona 500 and at Talladega) but is still ranked fourth in the championship thanks to top-10 finishes in seven of the other eight races. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang has four finishes of fourth-place this season.
So, Sunday will show us just how much speed Harvick has in 2019 or how much he lost from 2018 to 2019.