Kevin Harvick has been tabbed by many to win his second championship on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Statistically speaking, Harvick is ranked number one heading into the season finale.
In recent weeks, however, Harvick’s Stewart-Hass Racing team has faced some challenges. The most challenging event was the L1 penalty handed down from NASCAR for an illegal spoiler modification after his win at Texas. The penalty resulted in the win being encumbered and required Harvick to earn his way into the Championship 4 again.
Everything seemed to be going Harvick’s way at ISM Raceway until flat tire late in Stage 1 left him one lap down. He made his way back to a respectable fifth place finish and secured his shot at a second title.
Qualifying at Homestead did not put Harvick fans at ease. In a day when his three championship challengers all qualified in the top-10, Harvick found himself starting 12th. Harvick, however, did not seem overly concerned about his starting position.
“We’ve just been off as far as getting the front tires to turn today in qualifying trim and that’s all we’ve done. The Jimmy John’s Ford was just plowing tight the first time we went out, chattering the tires. We made it better the second round and then the third round it was just too tight in one and two down there, where we were okay in the first two rounds”, said Harvick. “We got tight down there and still tight down there, so we’ll go to work on it. We didn’t qualify that good here last year either, so we definitely need to figure out what we’ve got to do in qualifying trim, but hopefully our race stuff is good.”
Last year the Bakersfield, CA driver qualified ninth and finished fourth. Eventual winner and champion, Martin Truex Jr started second last year and won the race.
Starting second this year? Championship contender Kyle Busch. Truex, also a championship contender again, will start third. Toyotas swept the top three spots and look strong for Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400. Harvick, however, remained confident. “We qualified 12th, not last. It is not that big of a deal if we can get our car driving right for Sunday. We didn’t qualify well here last year either and hadn’t really drove well in qualifying trim all day today. We just have to get it driving right for Sunday.”