Kevin Harvick will be able to walk away from the year with two victories in the Chase, at least.
And that’s not bad for anybody.
But it won’t be the first thing that comes to mind when people talk about his 2013 season.
It will be the “spoiled brats” weekend in Martinsville.
Three weeks ago, after contact with Austin Dillon’s car in the Nationwide race, Harvick said the Dillon boys, Austin and Ty, the grandsons of team owner Richard Childress, were the reason he was leaving RCR.
He shouldn’t have said that. It clouded a professional approach he and Childress had taken to Harvick’s lame-duck season, knowing he was headed to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2014.
But in a credit to Harvick, and to RCR, it did not affect performance.
Harvick won his second Chase race on Sunday, moving up to third in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings with the victory at Phoenix. He and Matt Kenseth are the only drivers capable of catching Jimmie Johnson for the championship.
“You know, I obviously handle a lot of situations wrong, but it pushes a lot of buttons to try to make things better,” Harvick said. “There’s no better way to go out than to do what we’ve done this year.”
Harvick is not one to express a lot of public regret, but he has been straight-shooting in this case from the start.
“Obviously, we went to Martinsville, and I said things that I shouldn’t have said and put everybody in a position that was not good, but I think we had conversations about things after that that probably made us closer as people and, I think, as we move forward will probably make us closer as friends,” he said.
Childress accepted Harvick’s apology and kept his season-long promise to give him the best resources to win.
“We committed to each other early in the year that we’d give 100 percent, and we have, and Kevin has,” Childress said. “Just like we talked, we’ve had a great relationship, and when this race is over, I haven’t got a driver out there that’s driven for me or crew chief or anyone I can’t walk up and talk to, and that’s the way we want this to be.”
For Childress, the race community is a family. Harvick is still in it.
“You spend a lot of time with each other at the track, so you’re going to have your spats and stuff, and just got to make it work,” he said.
Give them credit. Harvick and Childress both made it work.
Last chance: Denny Hamlin has a victory in seven consecutive years, and Clint Bowyer has won in three straight. Both are winless this year.
Edwards’ track: Carl Edwards holds the top driver rating in eight categories at Homestead-Miami, including driver rating (119.0), average finish (5.0) and laps led (560).
Laps led: Jimmie Johnson is 15 laps away from 2,000 laps led for the season. It would be only the second time he has done that in his career.
To clinch: Austin Dillon clinches the championship by finishing third, or fourth with a lap led, or fifth with the most laps led.
Owners race: The No. 22 Ford of Penske Racing is four points ahead of the No. 54 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing. The margin was 26 points before Kyle Busch won in the 54 last week. Both cars have won 12 times this year.
Camping World Truck
To win: Matt Crafton needs only to start to win the series championship. It will be his 316th start, the most of any first-time trucks champion.
All laps: If Crafton finishes on the lead lap, he’ll become the first driver in series history to run every lap of the season.
Rookie record: All three rookies (Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr., Jeb Burton) won a race, a first for the series.
Wire to wire: If ThorSport Racing’s
No. 88 can win, it would be the first organization to lead the point standings all year.
19 Track qualifying records broken this year in Sprint Cup by the “Gen-6” car.
They said it
“I think [one of our races] has more variables than any pro sport out there. We have all 43 teams playing, driving, racing, all the mechanical components on the race car, pit stops, other issues on other cars that can take you out.”
— Jimmie Johnson