Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Second isn't close enough for NASCAR's Kevin Harvick

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kevin Harvick is leading the Sprint Cup standings and appears on his way to another run at a NASCAR championship. He also could be laying the groundwork for another maddening season in which he dominates on the track until it's time to collect the hardware.

Harvick finished second a frustrating 13 times last season, including the finale at Homestead when he lost the championship to race winner Kyle Busch.

Harvick's 2015 numbers were astounding: 2,294 laps led, a 97 percent completion rate and 23 top-five finishes in 36 races. But in the winner-take-all format, being consistently second-best doesn't earn many trophies.

Harvick has had one of the strongest cars each week this season, but he has just one victory, at Phoenix, to show for 485 laps led. He was second at Fontana, where he led a race-high 142 laps. He led a race-high 131 laps at Atlanta but finished sixth.

Now the series shifts to Texas Motor Speedway, one of just four active tracks where Harvick has yet to win a Cup race, for tonight's Duck Commander 500.

Harvick isn't bad at Texas, and has won five times on the 11/2-mile oval in the Xfinity series and once in trucks. He just hasn't made it to Victory Lane in the Cup series despite six top-five finishes. He has led a combined 109 laps in his past three starts at Texas and has three consecutive finishes of third or better.

"I just don't think we've ever had a whole day come together for whatever reason at Texas," Harvick said of his Cup futility. "We've had good runs there in the past but just haven't gotten to Victory Lane. We just have to figure out how to get in there."

Edwards on pole: Carl Edwards became the seventh pole-sitter in seven Sprint Cup races this season, posting a lap of 194.609 mph Friday in the final round of qualifying for tonight. He has won three times at Texas. "My confidence level was pretty decent, but now it's really good," Edwards said. "It's up there." Joey Logano and Martin Truex both had qualifying laps of 193.306 mph. Logano starts on the front row beside Edwards, with Truex third. Rookie Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse fill out the top five spots. It is Edwards' 17th career pole, his second in 23 starts at Texas.

No more money: An upshot of the Sprint Cup's charter system is NASCAR's new policy of withholding drivers' earnings in race box scores, the Charlotte Observer reported. The charter system was announced in February and guarantees 36 Cup teams a certain amount of revenue in addition to prize money.

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