Harvick rising as a title contender


With two wins within the final 4 races, ought to we think about Kevin Harvick a professional championship contender this season?

Jim Utter: Completely. I at all times had a sense that after Harvick and his No. four Stewart-Haas Racing crew lastly cracked Victory Lane this season, the floodgates would open. He is now received twice within the final 4 races. And there are many tracks forward on which he has sometimes run very effectively. The No. four crew has taken some time to get a maintain on the brand new guidelines bundle however now that they’ve, they might simply win a number of races all the way in which to Homestead.

Nick DeGroot: They’re choosing up momentum on the excellent time, simply earlier than the playoffs. Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers are two that it is best to by no means rely out, no matter what number of wins they’ve. I’ll at all times think about them title contenders by default, however they’re definitely making their case stronger with these newest victories.

Tim Southers: I believe Harvick has at all times been a contender he simply wanted to begin successful and he has finished that now successful twice previously few weeks. I at all times felt he would begin a string of wins as soon as he acquired that first one out of the way in which and he’s one to look at for certain within the postseason.

With three races left within the regular-season within the Cup Sequence, who do you count on to shine within the coming weeks amongst these nonetheless battling to get locked within the playoff discipline?

Jim: Whereas he’s already just about locked within the playoffs by factors, I nonetheless really feel William Byron is able to not solely persevering with his sturdy runs of late but in addition decide up his first profession Cup win. The No. 24 crew appears to have hit its stride and I believe could possibly be a particular spoiler within the playoffs. 

Nick: Erik Jones has been knocking on the door these days so I might watch him. Jimmie Johnson could also be having some bother however I really feel he will not go down quietly. With a brand new crew chief atop the pit field I count on that No. 48 crew to shine in some unspecified time in the future earlier than the common season comes to finish.

Tim: I believe we are going to see Erik Jones (who has ran effectively at Bristol) lock in his playoff berth. I do know this would possibly sound loopy however I truthfully suppose Jimmie Johnson can actually present one thing – particularly at a spot like Bristol. I additionally suppose we’ll see somebody come out of nowhere and decide up a win and that could possibly be Clint Bowyer.

Austin Cindric has received the primary two street course occasions within the Xfinity Sequence this season. Do you suppose he might sweep all 4?

Jim: Austin could not have higher timing. He was working effectively sufficient to make the playoffs however getting his first profession win within the first street course was precisely what he wanted. To date he’s 2-for-2 and he is excellent at Highway America and was sturdy on the Roval final 12 months. He might enter the playoffs with three wins and have excellent timing – once more – when he hits the Roval by way of advancing within the playoffs.

Nick: He will probably be one you need to beat, no query there. However there’s so many issues that may go unsuitable at a street course so I would not hand it to him but. And let’s not neglect he needed to battle tooth and nail at Watkins Glen to get that win. If he does it, it will not come straightforward.

Tim: Cindric has definitely proven he is aware of methods to get round a street course and I totally count on him to win no less than yet one more street course occasion if not each earlier than the top of the season.

The Truck Sequence playoffs start on Thursday night time. Who’s more likely to get a bounce on the competitors with a win at Bristol?

Jim: Johnny Sauter received this race a 12 months in the past and he might once more be a favourite, however I believe Thursday night time is a main alternative for Matt Crafton to select up his first win of the season, which might lock him within the second spherical of the playoffs. He has six top-10 finishes at Bristol in his final seven races and completed second to Kyle Busch in 2017 after main 90 laps.

Nick: Ross Chastain. That crew has been so sturdy and are coming off a disappointing race at Michigan the place they probably might have ran away with the win if not for an accident on pit street. They may constantly be those to beat throughout this 12 months’s playoffs and that begins with Bristol.

Tim: I believe Johnny Sauter, who received solely as soon as within the common season, will begin issues off by getting his second straight win at Bristol after he received this race final August. Whereas there may be numerous younger and proficient drivers within the playoff discipline, I really feel the title will nonetheless come all the way down to a veteran like Sauter or possibly even Matt Crafton.