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September 17th, 2010
Kevin Harvick plans to keep the same approach that earned him the points lead during the regular season as he heads into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship play-off.
The Richard Childress Racing driver accumulated the most points during the first 26 races of the season, taking three wins that gave him third in the standings as the points were reset for the start of the Chase this weekend.
Harvick’s consistency this season has been underlined by his 17 top 10 and 11 top five finishes thus far, more than any other title contender. Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin only beat him in number of victories, but failed to match him for overall performance consistency.
The Californian believes that if he manages to translate his performance from the regular season into the next 10 weeks, he should have a good shot at winning this year’s title.
“For us, I think we just have to keep doing the things that we did up until this point,” said Harvick. “We won a few races, had a lot of top fives and top 10 finishes.
“On the days where we really struggled, I felt like we, for the most part, made something out of those days. It was good enough to lead the points in the first 26 [races] so there is really no reason for us to change our strategy.
“I feel like the guys have done a great job of getting the cars prepared. They have built four or five new cars. We’ll see what happens. Whether we win or lose, I think everybody has done everything we can control. We’ll just go race now.”
Harvick has finished in fourth place in the standings twice, and back in 2006 he also won three times before the Chase, then took two victories in the play-off. However, he believes this year to be his best shot ever at winning NASCAR’s top title, his team being the only one having all its drivers in contention for the championship.
“I think we have the best chance to win just because of the mindset that we’ve been able to put ourselves in going into it first off; and that came from running well in the first 26 weeks and running through almost three Chases leading up until this point,” said Harvick.
“Until you beat the guy that’s won four times is one thing, but I think our shot at being able to win and have a chance to win the championship is there.
“It’s just a matter of how it all unfolds in 10 weeks. All 12 teams are capable of getting on a hot streak at any time.
“We’ve all been here before. We’ve all won championships in some sort of racing division at some time. So it’s just a matter of who puts these 10 weeks together and who gets on that hot streak.”
Although not a good qualifier, that being his main weakness, Harvick has the best average of positions earned from start to finish during races this season among Chase contenders.