NASCAR: The case for — and against — all 16 playoff drivers

NASCAR Cup Series Championship Trophy - Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
NASCAR Cup Series Championship Trophy - Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports /

NASCAR playoff contenders: No. 11 – Kevin Harvick

For the final time in his career, 2014 Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick enters the playoffs vying for a shot at an elusive second title. While he has not yet recorded a win this year, he looks set to make some noise in the 2023 playoffs.

The case for Kevin Harvick

What better way to go out than to go out than by winning a championship? With the playoff experience Harvick has built up over his career, he is just the guy who could get it done.

While he was winless in the regular season, Harvick has had winning speed at times, including at Phoenix Raceway in March. He appeared to be on his way to victory lane there before a late caution and pit stops ultimately cost him the win.

And while his three Stewart-Haas Racing teammates have all failed to consistently find any sort of competitive speed, Harvick has done that on almost a weekly basis. He is also one of the most experienced playoff drivers, having been among the playoff field every year since 2010. He won the championship in the current format’s debut season in 2014.

To top it off, Harvick has nine wins at Phoenix. Given how much experience and consistency matter in the playoffs, he is just the guy who could sneak his way into the Championship 4 and win.

The case against Kevin Harvick

Having competitive speed on a consistent basis is always a plus, but even that can only take you so far in the playoffs. With how much winning matters, it will be extremely difficult for Harvick to make it all the way to Phoenix without picking up at least one win – maybe more.

And while Harvick has certainly been fast this season, there haven’t been many instances in which he seemed to have legitimate winning speed outside of the aforementioned Phoenix race. He will almost certainly need to find some extra speed that we have yet to see.