|Harvick the early Chase favorite|
Twelve months ago, Kevin Harvick’s place in the Chase would be tenuous at best, his 22nd place in the point standings off-setting a series-leading two victories. But no longer. His win at Darlington all but assures his place in the finals.
Ignore the four straight finishes of 35th or worse. His total domination of the Darlington 500 on Saturday night – winning the pole position, leading 238 of 374 laps and running away with the green-white-checked finish on what is arguably the toughest track on the circuit – firmly establishes him as the early favorite for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. He said his team never doubted themselves, despite the string of poor finishes. And suddenly the team finds itself in a class by itself.
“Everybody wanted to finish the deal on weekends where we felt like we could do exactly what we did here today and did at Phoenix, but sometimes it just doesn't go your way,” Harvick said. “You have to be able to put that behind you whether you win or lose.
“I'm just proud of all my guys, Rodney (Childers) for keeping them all together and being a part of it, and seeing it not implode from within is pretty awesome.”
Harvick’s convincing win at Darlington was even more impressive considering he had never won at Darlington.
“It's the last crown jewel race I guess you could say that I wanted. I told them before the year even started, if we're only going to win once this year, let's win at Darlington because this is just the place that you want to race, and I love racing here. I think it's like going to Bristol for me. But all in all, it's a great place to race and means a lot to our sport.”
Which makes the stories about Darlington’s possible demise all the more confusing. At least one news report coming out of Darlington said the race is again in danger of being dropped from the NASCAR schedule. First it lost its traditional Labor Day date. Then it lost its new date to Kansas (Kansas!?!). And now there’s talk there may not be room for Darlington next year?
That’s even harder to believe than Harvick being the Chase favorite.