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Statistically Speaking

1. Kevin Harvick

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The Daytona 500 is often one of the most unpredictable races of the season. "Big One" crashes, blown engines, and the erratic nature of the draft can frequently make finishing orders of the Great American Race appear random. Last year’s edition of this race set the tone for the season, however.

In the current age of NASCAR parity, defending a championship is difficult even if Jimmie Johnson made it look easy from 2006 through 2010. The current knockout-style format did not necessarily require drivers to dominate the year, but they have to be both lucky and good during the final 10 races. After all, Kyle Busch won the Sprint Cup by peaking at the right time despite running only part of the schedule. Harvick’s spot in the Chase underscored one of the strengths of this style of playoff. The cream will rise to the top.

When Harvick followed Joey Logano across the finish line in last year’s Daytona 500, it set the tone for the remainder of the season. Harvick’s season-long average finish of 8.7 was slightly better than Logano’s 9.2 and these drivers were immediately established as place-and-hold racers. Harvick got off to a better overall start than Logano with six first- or second-place results and an eighth. He was actually the first driver to lock into the Chase with back-to-back wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway since Logano could still technically fall far enough back in the pack that his single win in the first part of the season might not be enough to be Chase eligible.

An accident at Bristol Motor Speedway, tire problems at Michigan International Speedway, and a blown engine at Pocono Raceway were the only hiccups in a near perfect regular season for Harvick, but once the Chase began he lost a little of his consistency. He crashed out of the Chicagoland Speedway race after ignoring tire problems and gambled on fuel at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He needed to win at Dover International Speedway in order to advance out of the first round and he probably would not have made the Eliminator Round if he had not spun Trevor Bayne under suspicious circumstances at Talladega SuperSpeedway.

He regained his momentum at Martinsville Speedway with an eighth-place finish and became the same great value at the end of the season as he was at the start. Harvick ended 2015 with three top-three finishes and came within one spot of posting back-to-back championships by finishing in the runner-up position at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Fantasy owners benefitted from his consistency for most of the season, but NASCAR was the biggest winner. For the second consecutive year title contenders finished one-two so they finally made the finale the most important race of the year. Harvick crossed the line of the Ford 400 immediately behind Kyle Busch

 

Track

Career
Avg. Finish

Career
Avg. Start

Best
Finish

Career
Attempts

Race 1

Race 2

Homestead - Miami Speedway

6.23

11.62

1

13

2

 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

10.20

14.53

1

15

3

 

Kentucky Speedway

10.40

13.00

7

5

8

 

Phoenix International Raceway +

10.62

16.23

1

26

1

2

Richmond International Raceway

10.83

15.00

1

30

2

14

Kansas Speedway

11.35

15.45

1

20

2

16

Chicagoland Speedway

11.73

17.07

1

15

42

 

Watkins Glen International

12.00

12.87

1

15

3

 

Texas Motor Speedway +

12.31

18.31

2

26

2

3

Michigan International Speedway

13.17

16.23

1

30

29

2

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

13.77

13.10

1

30

3

21

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

13.80

20.53

1

15

1

 

Pocono Raceway

14.13

17.07

2

30

2

42

Dover Downs International +

14.27

17.83

1

30

2

1

Bristol Motor Speedway

14.60

16.63

1

30

38

2

Charlotte Motor Speedway *

15.10

16.93

1

30

9

2

Sonoma Raceway

15.13

15.67

2

15

4

 

Talladega SuperSpeedway

15.33

22.07

1

30

8

15

Auto Club Speedway

15.73

16.55

1

22

2

 

Daytona International Speedway +

15.76

16.83

1

29

2

4

Martinsville Speedway *

15.86

14.41

1

29

8

8

Darlington Raceway

16.37

15.58

1

19

5

 

Atlanta Motor Speedway

18.08

17.80

1

25

2

 

Inactive Tracks

Homestead - Miami Speedway - old

13.50

24.50

7

2

 

 

North Carolina Speedway

19.86

31.00

13

7

 

 

 

+ Top-five sweeps
* Top-10 sweeps

2. Joey Logano 
3. Matt Kenseth 
4. Kurt Busch 
5. Kyle Busch 
6. Brad Keselowski 
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 
8. Jimmie Johnson 
9. Denny Hamlin 
10. Martin Truex Jr. 
11. Kyle Larson 
12. Carl Edwards 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.