Harvick: 'Time for...Chase Mode'
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on July 25, 2014 | 7:15 A.M. EST
Kevin Harvick says the time is now to begin focusing on the Chase for the Sprint Cup. (Photo: Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS - It’s time. Enough of the playfulness, enough of the trial-and-error, enough of the mistakes.
“It’s time for us to get into Chase mode,’’ Kevin Harvick said Thursday afternoon during a Chevrolet event at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course.
Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins a season-ending stretch of 17 consecutive weekends of racing. Now is a time to reset goals and refocus priorities.
Harvick is ready.
After winning two of the first eight races to all but assure himself a spot in the Chase, Harvick and his team focused on collecting wins instead of points. While he hasn’t won a Sprint Cup race since, he’s had the strongest car most weekends only to see a litany of miscues, mechanical issues and other maladies often strike.
“We’ve addressed a lot of things, cleaned a lot of things up,’’ Harvick said.
He enters Indy after a 30th-place finish two weeks ago at New Hampshire when he ran out of fuel on the final restart while second.
“We really hadn’t had anything lose,’’ Harvick said of the fuel gamble. “Knew you were going to run out of gas at Loudon, but if you pit you’re going to finish 18th or 19th, maybe 10th.’’
That won’t be good enough in the Chase. With 16 drivers starting the Chase and four drivers eliminated every three races, such gambles could cost a team a shot at the championship. Thus, Harvick’s notion of getting into Chase mode now and limiting the big gambles.
“We need to take this from here forward and make sure that ... when you’re not winning, you develop that consistency, which we can do,’’ Harvick said.
That’s been lacking with this team, which has as many top-five finishes (five) as finishes of 30th or worse.
With the speed the team has displayed this season - Harvick ranks second in laps led at 882 - if it develops that consistency, it could be one of the key championship contenders.
Another key for Harvick is getting to Phoenix, the next-to-last race of the season. That race will determine the final spots among the four who will race for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Harvick has won three of the last four races at that track.
That’s further ahead. The focus for now is on this weekend’s race at Indianapolis.
“You come here wanting to win the race and we know we can win the race if we put it all together,’’ said Harvick, who won at Indy in 2003. “It’s just a matter of putting it all together.’’