StatWatch: Kevin Harvick having best year of his career


Pretty soon the 2018 NASCAR Cup series season will be finishing up and we’ll be reflecting on the season that was as well as looking ahead to 2019. Time continues to move in a linear fashion, after all.

Side note, did you know Friday (Nov. 9) will mark 100 days until the 2019 Daytona 500?

Next week at this time, we’ll be looking ahead to the championship four, and the week after that, we’ll wax poetic on a champion. So, since we already know half of the four drivers who will be racing for a championship at Homestead, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the impressive stuff they have been doing.

Harvick’s unexpected winning ways

When you see quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees doing what they’re doing at this stage of their careers, it’s easy to forget that people typically don’t have such huge seasons when they have been working at their craft for more than a decade.

We need to appreciate that Kevin Harvick is having the best year of his career at 42 (he’ll turn 43 in December). His eight wins are three more than he’s had in any other season in his career, and his top-5s, top-10s and average finishes are all better than what he had in his 2014 championship season.

Only two other drivers in Cup series history have won at least eight times in a season after turning 42.

In 1959, Lee Petty won 11 times (and the championship) after turning 45 during the season.

And in 1982, 44-year-old Bobby Allison won eight times and finished second in points. He won six more times the next year at 45 years old.

If you’re not first, second’s good, too

In addition to Harvick’s eight wins this season, he also has four runner-up finishes. Those 12 top-two finishes are tied with Kyle Busch for the most this season and equal Kyle Larson‘s total from last season.

Only once in the playoff era (since 2004) have we had multiple drivers with a least a dozen top-two finishes in a season. In 2008, Carl Edwards led the way with 14, but it was Jimmie Johnson‘s 12 that helped him win the championship.

Since 1980, there’s only been two other instances of multiple drivers having at least a dozen top-two finishes in a season. In 1998, Jeff Gordon (19) and Mark Martin (13) both did it. And in 1981, Darrell Waltrip (18) and Bobby Allison (12) pulled it off.

How low can Logano’s average finish go?

After his win at Martinsville, Joey Logano put up a third-place finish at Texas, his sixth straight top-10 and seventh in eight races in this year’s playoffs. His only blemish is a shameful 14th-place run at Richmond.

Logano has picked a prime time of the year to hit his stride. His average finish of 6.0 in the postseason puts him in a pretty good spot.

Only seven drivers in the first 14 years of the playoffs have had an average finish of sixth or better in a single year, and four of those ended up winning the championship.

Last year, however, Logano’s arch nemesis Martin Truex Jr. (as opposed to this week’s nemesis, Aric Almirola) put up a mark that’ll be tough to beat at 4.3, the best we’ve had in a single postseason.

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