While Kevin Harvick acknowledged he had a great season, he also admitted his team didn’t perform well enough in the Round of 8 to advance.
“Like I said earlier (on TV), they aren’t won the same way that (Dale) Earnhardt and (Richard) Petty did,” Harvick said of a championship. “You have to put together a few weeks, and we didn’t put together these last few weeks like we needed to and just came up short.”
It was a surprise elimination for Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team, who won the regular-season championship and nine races. Harvick entered the round 45 points above the cutline. But he finished 16th in Texas after hitting the wall while leading and 17th at Martinsville after struggling with an ill-handling car and then fighting back from two laps down because of a flat tire.
Harvick’s advantage on the cutline going into Martinsville had been 42 points. He missed advancing by eight points. Coming down to the final laps, Harvick was one lap below the cutline as the field ran, and tried to knock Kyle Busch out of the way on the last lap but ended up spinning both himself and Busch.
“It was just a move I had to try knowing that I needed one point,” said Harvick. “I needed to hit him square in the door, but at that point, I was too late and wound up hitting him in the back. It was just a Hail Mary that didn’t work out.”
Asked if being eliminated was a gut punch, Harvick said he’d had harder ones. He reiterated it was a great year for his team, and a championship would have been a bonus.
“It would be great to win it, obviously, but I’d rather go through the year and win races and do the things that we did. Just came up short.”
Harvick is the first regular-season champion not to make the Championship 4.
“That’s the system that we work in,” he said. “It’s obviously skewed more towards entertainment than the whole year, so it’s exciting to watch and has that format that goes with it, and you take them as they come, and we race within the system that they give us and do our best. It just didn’t work out for us. The last three weeks didn’t go exactly how we needed them to, and you’ve got to be right when you get to this Round of 8.”