After a winless 2021 season, Kevin Harvick snapped a 65-race drought by winning consecutive races this summer in the NASCAR Cup Series. He finished in the top five nine times and finished in the top 10 17 times. Ultimately, Harvick finished 15th in driver’s points.
Harvick opened the season with a 30th-place finish in the Daytona 500 after crashing in the closing laps. He finished no worse than 12th in the three west coast races before finishing 21st at the newly configured Atlanta Motor Speedway, a place he won at three times before the repave. A week later, Harvick finished 11th at COTA, the first road race course of the season.
At Richmond Raceway, Harvick arguably had his best opportunity to win an early season race. Harvick and team elected to pit twice in the final stage to maximize time on fresher tires, but couldn’t get by Denny Hamlin in the closing laps and finished second.
Over the next seven races, Harvick finished outside the top 15 just once — when he crashed and finished 30th at the Bristol dirt race. He finished 33rd after crashing at Gateway before consecutive top 10s at Sonoma, Nashville and Road America. He finished 12th at Atlanta and recorded a top-five a week later a New Hampshire.
For the next two weeks, Harvick battled adversity. He had a strong run going at Pocono before Denny Hamlin crashed Ross Chastain in the closing laps. Harvick suffered damage after Chastain hit the wall and back came across the track in front of him.
A week later, Harvick finished 33rd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course after crashing with Alex Bowman. He was still 10th in points, but with so many different winners, Harvick was at risk of missing the Playoffs.
Naturally, Harvick responded by ending his winless drought with consecutive victories at Michigan and Richmond to clinch a Playoff spot. He finished the regular season with a 12th-place finish at Watkins Glen and a 20th-place finish at Daytona after suffering damage in the rain-affected crash in the closing laps.
Harvick opened the Playoffs on a sour note, suffering an exhaust fire and finishing 33rd. At Kansas, he hit the wall on Lap 33 and finished 36th, setting up a must-win situation at Bristol. He finished 10th in the Round of 16 finale and failed to transfer.
After finishes of 19th and 29th at Texas and Talladega, respectively, Harvick contended for the win at the Charlotte ROVAL but was beaten by Christopher Bell on fresh tires. He finished the season with three top 15s in the final four races.
Harvick returns to Stewart-Haas Racing next season with a little bit of uncertainty. He has a contract with the team through the end of 2023, but with Harvick in the twilight of his career, it’s unknown if the 46-year-old will sign another extension.
Regardless, Harvick will hope to turn SHR’s misfortune around next season after two down years. The team won just three combined races this season after winning just one race last year.
Harvick won nine races in 2020 and will hope to return to that form. With a year under his belt driving the Next Gen car, it’s certainly possible he could do that.