Suddenly a driver fell out of qualifying

If the playoffs for the NASCAR Cup Series begin today, Kevin Harvick would fight for a 17th place as opposed to the second championship.

Of the 25 races of the NASCAR Cup Series contested between Sunday, May 17, 2020 and Saturday, September 19, 2020, a driver other than Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick won just 16, giving Harvick more wins in a single season than any race. other. Driver since 2008.

Since then, 58 races have been contested, and Harvick has not won a single race. The 2021 season was his first without a win since 2009.

His 58-race continuous drought is his longest run since he ran 115 races without a win between the 2007 Daytona 500 season opener at Daytona International Speedway and the April 2010 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Two days ago, Harvick finished third in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after surviving the chaos of the season’s longest race, giving him a sixth-place finish since his ninth and final win in 2020.

But a brake rotor failure late in the inaugural Cup Series race last Sunday afternoon at World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway led to his third DNF of the season, his most in 15 races since 2002.

Harvick is now 13th in the points standings. But four drivers behind him in the standings have won this year, including one who won twice, so they are all ahead of the No. 4 Ford driver in the qualifying game.

As a result, Harvick sits 17th in the breakout picture, which puts him outside looking with 11 regular races remaining.

Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick is currently 12th in the points standings and is the 16th and last driver above the cut-off line, two points behind Harvick. Stewart Haas Racing’s Eric Almerola sits six points behind Riddick.

Last year, Harvick was the 15th of 16 drivers to qualify, and he started qualifying as the 16th and lowest-ranked driver. So it’s not as though this season has been much different than last year for the 46-year-old Bakersfield, of California in terms of being near the cutting streak.

But despite coming off wins for the first time since the 2009 season, he managed to finish fifth in the points standings last year, ironically the same place he finished when he won nine races in 2020.

If he fails to qualify for the playoffs this year, he will finish, at best, in 17th place.

He has yet to finish in the top eight since 2009, when he finished 19th. The 2009 season, when he was still with Richard Childress Racing, is the most recent season in which he did not qualify, and his 12-year streak was the longest of all active drivers.

Fortunately for Harvick, he has come much closer to returning to the playoff picture than losing more positions. Betty GMS Motorsports’ Eric Jones is seated behind, and Jones is 24 points behind. Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon is three points behind Jones.

But if more new winners continue to emerge, this fight could prove a lot tougher for Harvick than making up just a few points over Riddick or Almerola and staying ahead of Jones and Dillon.

Of course, he could eliminate that pressure by winning himself. Although winning won’t necessarily tie him up in the playoffs, the fact that he is ahead of three other individual race winners in terms of points may bode well for him if there are more than 16 different regular season winners and the tie on points is broken. Necessary to determine who gets the finalist points.

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