Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Is Kevin Harvick being overlooked?

   Much has been written and said - even by Kevin Harvick himself - about whether he has been overlooked in this year's Sprint Cup championship race.

   Harvick's crew chief, Gil Martin was asked about this on Wednesday and here was his response:

   "I can't explain to you why he doesn't (get respect he deserves), but I can talk to you about why he should. I mean, you just go back and look. Again, I know it doesn't matter to nothing, but everybody talks about stats all week long. That's all you see all week long. When you go back and look where we would be in traditional points, where we are on top 10s, where we are on points gained, where we are on top 5s, I think if you go back and look, it's almost been one of the best seasons that RCR has ever had in its history.

   "Obviously if we don't win the championship, it's not going to be where we want to be, but it's a championship run that we've had all year long. And in order for that to have happened, he had to do a lot of things right this year, and I think a lot of those things have gone a little bit unnoticed because a lot of emphasis has been put on that we haven't qualified very well. But because we haven't qualified very well, the amount of cars that we've passed this year coming from I'll say not even mid-pack, three-quarter pack, through most of the season, I don't know the number of those cars, and I'm sure y'all have the stats on that, but the amount of cars that we've passed this season is probably astronomical compared to a lot of them.

   "And it's a shame that we had the little problem we did in the pits this weekend because I really think when we were running third and had to come back in, if we would have got to see some clean air, our car was going to be very fast out front or in the top two or three this weekend. But he's done a great job, and I think he deserves a lot more credit probably than he is getting."

   A couple things: First, I believe Harvick has as good a chance to win this title as either Jimmie Johnson or Denny Hamlin, given the circumstances with one race remaining.

   Second, given that, I don't think it's unreasonable to consider Harvick an upset winner should he do so.

   Harvick may have led the series points standings most of the first 26 weeks of the season but that feat in an off itself doesn't mean much - or anything - when it comes to the Chase. It's wins that matter, and that's how you get seeded to start the Chase. A driver can have a 1,000 point lead after 26 races but if he doesn't have a win, he'll start dead last in the Chase. That's the system.

   Given that, and the fact Johnson has won four straight championships and has a better than average shot at a fifth, Harvick is right where he should be: knocking on the door, with a chance to kick it in.