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Harvick Is Exploding, Not Imploding, In Chase

Mark Armijo | Senior Correspondent, RacinToday.com Friday, October 18 2013

Kevin Harvick could moving toward his first Sprint Cup championship. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Mark Armijo | Senior Correspondent
RacinToday.com

PHOENIX, Ariz. – OK, raise your hand if before the season you penciled Kevin Harvick in the No. 3 position with only five remaining races in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Yeah, that’s what we thought.

Who would have dared envision Harvick, who announced at last season’s November race at Phoenix International Raceway the 2013 season would be his last for car owner Richard Childress, would make his swan song at RCR such a thrill ride.

But there he is in striking distance, just 29 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth, entering Sunday’s likely white-knuckle adventure at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

“I laugh about it this year because everybody kind of had written us off, saying, ‘They won’t do this, they won’t do that’,’’ said Harvick, who made a courtesy stop in Phoenix on Thursday to help promote the Nov. 10 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. “They were waiting for us to implode.”

But Harvick hasn’t imploded. More like exploded to a familiar position near the top of the NASCAR leaderboard, winning three races this season, including a dominant performance two weeks ago at Kansas, leading 138 of 267 laps.

To collar his first title, however, Harvick likely needs a Kansas repeat or two in the next five weeks along with some unattractive performances from Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, who trails Kenseth by a mere four points.

“I don’t have a slim-and-none chance by any means,” said Harvick, who announced earlier this season he would Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. “I have to be careful as to what I say because I know we’re going to Talladega this weekend. That’s the hard part because you know what’s on the burner as far as would could or couldn’t happen at Talladega.”

What Harvick hopes happens is he delivers a clean run and remains in Chase contention, if not even closer to the top of the standings.

“I feel like if we can have a couple of weekends like we had at Kansas, you can control your own destiny more than just reeling off top five’s and top 10s because you know those two guys (Kenseth and Johnson) are going to reel off some top five’s as well,” Harvick said. “But I think we’ve seen weekends where they’re both vulnerable. Those are the weekends we have to take advantage.

“We have to capitalize on the days they’re not doing well because we don’t have any mulligans. We have to be good as we’ve ever been to keep our self in it and make it happen.”

Translation: Harvick needs to win races.

“The long and short of beating around the bush is we’re going to have to win a race or two in these last five races to make it happen, and I think we’re capable of that because we know we just did it a couple of weeks ago and we’ve done it throughout the year,” Harvick said.

If Harvick can do it one or two more times throughout the remainder of the season, he just might end up with the last laugh.

– Mark Armijo is the long-time auto-racing beat writer from the Arizona Republic and a frequent contributor to RacinToday.com

Mark Armijo | Senior Correspondent, RacinToday.com Friday, October 18 2013
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