After entering the playoffs as one of the hottest drivers in the sport, Kevin Harvick has since fallen on hard times. And that’s putting it mildly. One could just as easily say the first two races of the playoffs have been nothing less than a disaster for the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
Thanks to two DNFs in as many weeks, Harvick has tumbled from his original playoff seed of eighth all the way to last among the 16 championship contenders. To say his back is against the wall heading to Bristol would be an understatement, considering that he’s a whopping 35 points to the negative of the Round of 12 cutline.
Harvick’s best and only legitimate opportunity to keep his title hopes alive beyond this weekend’s elimination race is to go out and grab win. While that may seem like a tall order, Harvick is no stranger to Victory Lane at Bristol, having conquered the high-banked concrete oval three times over the course of his lengthy Cup career. One of those wins came in the 2020 night race in Thunder Valley, and he finished second here one year ago on the heels of a controversial late-race dustup with Chase Elliott.
Harvick, of course, is no stranger to do-or-die-type situations like the one he faces on Saturday night. Needing a win to make the playoffs, Harvick won twice in the final month of the regular season after going winless in the season’s first 22 races. It’s no coincidence that his nickname is “The Closer.” The 2014 Cup champ has a history of rising to the occasion in high-pressure situations, and Saturday night could be no different.