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Pistone: Harvick Class of the Field

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship is Kevin Harvick’s to lose.

It’s pretty simple. The only way Harvick doesn’t win his second career Cup title is if he gives it away or a string of extremely bad luck swallows up the No. 4 team. There isn’t another driver or team in the series right now that can out race or outpace Harvick and company.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver put his ninth win of the year on the board this past Saturday night with his Bristol Motor Speedway victory. In 29 races run so far this through the regular season and the opening round of the playoffs, Harvick has an average finish of 6.2. He is just one victory away from becoming the first double digit Cup Series winner since the 2007 season.

Need more statistical proof of just how good Harvick has been this year? For those of you keeping score at home here’s more from the tale of the tape:

• Harvick’s nine wins represents 31% of victories this season
• His win at Bristol was the 12th different track where he’s won three times
• Bristol was Harvick’s 16th Playoff win which ranks second all-time
• He led four times for 226 laps Saturday night including the final 32
• Harvick’s 19 top five finishes are four better than next best Denny Hamlin
• His 24 top-10 runs are four more than Brad Keselowski’s 20
• Harvick has led a season best 1,416 laps in 2020, a whopping 503 more than Keselowski in second place.

Yes, Harvick has found the proverbial “rare air” in NASCAR.

But he’s not going to engage in any conversations about this being one of the greatest seasons in NASCAR, even if statistically Harvick is on that path. Right now, it’s all about performing at the highest level possible, which was again the case Saturday night in Bristol.

“Where you’re good is where you have the best results, and fortunately for me, they’re coming right now,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by a great group of people that have the same commitment to doing the things that I like to do, and that’s race cars and try to do it at a very high level.”

Harvick’s approach for the next round of the playoffs and the rest of the season is the same as it’s been since the year kicked off at Daytona in February in what seems like an eternity ago in this COVID-19 impacted campaign. Drown out the noise and stay focused on the matter at hand, which is running well and winning races.

“I think for us, you just don’t want to read anything that’s happening in the sport, honestly, at this particular time of the year,” Harvick said. “You just want to keep your mind as clear as possible. We’ve made a decision of how we want to think and what we want to talk about and pay attention to, and it’s us. I know that sounds selfish, but the thing that I can tell you is its way less mentally exhausting than worrying about where you need to have a good race and where you need to have a bad race. It’s how do we get the most out of this week, and once you start the race, it’s okay, what do we need to do to our car, are we good, are we bad, where do we need to work and just try to be productive and proactive of thinking towards what we need to do next.

“I don’t have the capacity to think more than one week ahead anyway and trying to overthink things just takes way too much space in my brain for me to function during the week.”

There’s nothing to overthink in terms of prognosticating the Cup Series championship. Barring the Gods of chance and circumstance somehow taking it from him, there isn’t anyone who can beat Harvick for the crown.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.