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Harvick, And His Team, Continue To Win When Necessary
Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are all about winning.
For the third time in as many years since NASCAR introduced an elimination format for its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, Harvick won a race when he absolutely needed to. Coming off a 38th-place finish at Charlotte the week before, Harvick drove his No. 4 Chevrolet to victory at Kansas, clinching a spot in the Chase's round of eight.
Along with Jimmie Johnson, who is also advancing thanks to his win at Charlotte, Harvick won't have to worry about what happens this weekend at Talladega, where the Chase field will be cut from 12 to eight.
The sometimes outspoken Harvick comes through in the clutch consistently and he did just that Sunday. This wasn’t a dominant win but one where he made sure his car was in front when it needed to be.
He seized the lead on a restart with 30 laps to go and pulled away from the field, winning by 1.183 seconds over Carl Edwards.
After seeing several victories slip out of his grasp over the past three years when he had the best car, Harvick was delighted to get a win on a day when his car wasn't carrying peak speed.
"It's good to probably feel you didn't have the fastest car and win the race," he said. "I think a lot of times we felt like we had the fastest car and didn't win the race, so it's good to get a few of those back.
"We've won two races in the Chase, and I feel like we won both of them on restarts and that's something we've worked on for probably a year now," Harvick continued. "When we get behind on something, we dive right in on that and try to make it better."
It's that kind of attitude that has generally elevated Harvick and his team over the rest of the Cup series field for the past three years. Under crew chief Rodney Childers' leadership, there's no closer-knit team in the garage area.
"We could say that we need to go jump off a cliff in the morning and everybody would be there at sunrise and say, 'All right, where do we jump?'" Harvick said. "That's the kind of group this is. Everybody has got each other's back and nobody takes offense if somebody tells them they need to do something better.
"It's just a unique bunch of people, and you're only as good as the people around you. That's true in every business, and it's no different in this garage."
Between them, Harvick and Childers have fostered a winning attitude among the No. 4 group. Points racing just isn't in their vocabulary.
"I had no idea where we were in the points [after the 38th-place finish at Charlotte] or how many we were behind," Harvick said. "The only thing we talked about was trying to figure out how to win this race, and if we didn't win this race, what we needed to do at Talladega.
"For us, it's always about reaching for something to motivate us," he continued. "If it's having to win a race, or going to a racetrack you haven't won at, or rebounding from a bad week, we've been fortunate to be on the good side of this deal for three years now. We know we can perform, and we know we can perform in good and bad situations."