NASCAR: How rare is what Kevin Harvick pulled off?

Kevin Harvick’s nine wins in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season were the most for any driver in a single season since 2008 and tied for the second most since the turn of the century.

Kevin Harvick may not have won the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship to secure his second career title.

But despite that, and despite his shocking elimination from the playoffs before the Championship 4 for the first time since 2016, he had a historic year.

Harvick, who scored by the most points when excluding the playoff points resets, won nine times and recorded a series-high 20 top five finishes and a series-high 27 top 10 finishes in 36 races. He finished outside of the top 20 only once and recorded a series-best average finish of 7.33.

An average finish that low hadn’t been seen since Jeff Gordon posted that exact number in the 2007 NASCAR Cup Series season when he also scored the most points but failed to win the title.

Additionally, no driver had won more than eight races in a season since Carl Edwards won nine in 2008.

Harvick himself entered the 2020 season with a career-high eight wins in a single season, having shattered his previous career-high mark of five from 2014 back in 2018.

He secured his ninth and final win of the 2020 season in the season’s 29th race at Bristol Motor Speedway, as his lone win drought of more than four races throughout the year turned out to be a seven-race win drought at the end of the year which cost him a shot at the title.

Like Harvick in the 2020 season, Edwards also did not win the championship in the 2008 season, although also like Harvick, he did score the most points when taking the playoff points resets out of the equation.

Nine wins is by no means an all-time record, but take a look at just how rare it has become for drivers to get within one win of — or top — a double-digit single-season win total.

The only driver aside from Harvick and Edwards to win at least nine races in a single season since Jeff Gordon’s dominant 13-win, championship-winning 1998 season is Jimmie Johnson, who won 10 times, including four in a row and six in an 11-race span late in the year, en route to securing his second consecutive title in 2007.

Johnson, Edwards and Harvick are the only drivers to win at least 25% of the races in a single season during the playoff era. Of those three, only Johnson won the title when he pulled off the historic feat.