Avoiding Darlington 'chaos' boosts Kevin Harvick's playoff run

Kevin Harvick remains without a win this season but his performance Sunday night at Darlington breathed new life into his NASCAR Cup Series playoff run.

Avoiding Darlington 'chaos' boosts Kevin Harvick's playoff run
Listen to this article

Harvick was one of the last drivers to qualify for the 2021 playoffs and was seeded last among the 16 drivers in the playoff field as the first of the 10 races to decide the series champion got underway at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

While numerous championship contenders experienced race-ending issues, Harvick was one of the most consistent performers throughout the 367-lap event.

Although he had to overcome his own problems in the race – including running the final two laps of the race on a flat right-rear tire – Harvick ended up fifth, his first top-five finish since he was fourth in the second Pocono race in June.

“We finished on a flat tire. We had to pit for a loose wheel or a tire coming apart or something and got a lap down, and then got the (free pass) and just a lot going on,” Harvick, 45, said. “That’s pretty typical of this race though.

“Our guys have done a great job. We led a bunch of laps early and had a fast race car and were able to capitalize on a good day.”

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Richmond, Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Light Fan Design

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Richmond, Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Light Fan Design

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Heading into the second race of the first playoff round on Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Harvick is now seventh in the playoff standings and 20 points ahead of the cutoff line.

The four drivers lowest in points without a win will be eliminated from further title contention following the Sept. 18 race at Bristol, Tenn.

“I think it’s a good start. I think just a little bit of balance here and there to get ourselves to compete for the win, but I think as you look at the overall speed it was fairly good,” Harvick said of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team’s playoff opener.

“We struggled a lot in traffic. We just couldn’t make the moves like we needed to in traffic. We had speed if we had clean air, but it just took us so long to get through traffic. Everybody did a good job battling through everything that happened tonight.”

Keeping out of trouble

Harvick said his race went “relatively clean,” even though he pit under green on Lap 288 of 367 for what he thought was a loose wheel and ended the race on a flat tire.

“Darlington in general is just one of those places that creates chaos in itself. There are a lot of places that you can make a mistake and it’s the first race of the playoffs and everybody always loses their mind in the first race of the playoffs,” he said.

“It happens every year. If it’s not the first race, it’ll be one of the first three, or four, five in six, or seven, eight and nine. At some point, they all lose their mind.”

Read Also:

shares
comments

Related video

Ross Chastain plays spoiler in playoff opener at Darlington
Previous article

Ross Chastain plays spoiler in playoff opener at Darlington

Next article

NASCAR fines Kyle Busch $50,000 for Darlington safety violation

NASCAR fines Kyle Busch $50,000 for Darlington safety violation
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021