Harvick Looks for Hail Mary
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on November 16, 2013 | 3:00 P.M. EST
“It's definitely a really, really long shot. But we'll control the things that are in our control and see how it all falls.” (Photo: Getty Images)
Harvick comes into Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the third spot in the Chase standings 34 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. While he’s mathematically still in the hunt for the title, Harvick understands the long odds he faces in Sunday’s season finale.
“Realistically the only things we can control are what we do,” said Harvick. “It's definitely a really, really long shot. But we'll control the things that are in our control and see how it all falls.”
Some believe adding to Harvick’s odds is the fact both Johnson and second place Matt Kenseth recently tested at Homestead while the Richard Childress Racing team did not. However Harvick doesn’t see the extra track time of his competitors as a disadvantage.
“Not really,” he said. “We went and tested at Texas and didn't run very well. Well, he went and tested at Texas and dominated the race.
“If we do everything that we've done, I feel like this is probably the best car from an aero standpoint they brought to the racetrack. We might hit a few bumps in the road to start the practice, but I think we'll be fine.”
Harvick’s deficit is an example of just how competitive this year’s title run has been. Despite putting together a solid string of Chase finishes including a pair of victories and an impressive average finish, Harvick is nearly a race worth of points out of the lead.
“I think we've averaged like a 7.5 throughout the Chase,” said Harvick. “I felt like after we left Loudon, one of these guys was going to have one of those Chases that was going to take a 4 or a 5 average finish to make it happen and probably going to win a few races.
“We knew going in we couldn't make any mistakes because you're racing against guys that have had a great year, are capable of winning every week. So we knew when we left Loudon that we had made a big mistake. That's just the way it goes. You just have to race every week. We've had a good Chase.”
There were some that thought Harvick would not have anywhere near the Chase or full season he’s put together in the farewell season with RCR. Since his announcement more than a year ago he would join Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, many wrote off this year and Harvick’s lame duck situation.
But Harvick, crew chief Gil Martin and the entire 29 team have been able to persevere through a year that also included the infamous Martinsville flare-up with Ty Dillon and team owner Childress.
None of the issues have been a distraction to Harvick’s performance.
“So we've been through a lot of scenarios that were a lot tougher than starting with my job ending after this week at RCR,” he said. “The way that it started at Atlanta, really Rockingham in 2001. We've been through a lot of hard situations before, had committed to each other to fulfill our commitment throughout the year.
“The guys in the shop, they don't care. I always tell people, It's just as hard to run last as it is to run first. All those guys were onboard. Everybody knew the scenario.”
The ultimate final scenario of course would be for Harvick to somehow steal the championship from Johnson and Kenseth. Given the interesting and sometimes challenging string of events that have punctuated Harvick’s career, maybe the idea is not so far fetched.
“I think for us, we've had so many strange things happen throughout my career at the last minute, you at least have to play everything out,” said Harvick. “Just the type of team we are, we race up until the last lap. You just never know what's going to happen.”
Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will have live coverage of Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway at 2 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.