Kevin Harvick’s Crew Chief Explains Loss in Form for the No. 4 Team in 2021 NASCAR Season

Published 03/19/2021, 11:45 AM EDT
Mar 7, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) and driver William Byron (24) lead the field for the start of the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


Back in 2020, Kevin Harvick enjoyed a sublime run of form. Unfortunately, he has been unable to replicate the same in the 2021 Cup Series season. In fact, he has been noticeably slower this season, compared to last year.

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This affects the Stewart-Haas Racing team a lot, especially since he and the team set some very high standards. For the past 6 seasons, SHR has had the fastest car on the track, at least five of them.

The only hiccup came in 2017 when they ranked 2nd in the Cup Series championship. However, it is worth mentioning that this was largely down to the fact that they were in the middle of transitioning from Chevrolet to Ford.

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“We had some rules changes and some new templates and stuff like that that really changed the shape of the rear wheel openings” crew chief Rodney Childers explained.

“Just to be frank, it knocked 70 counts of downforce off the cars, and when you knock that amount of downforce off, especially when it mainly comes off the rear, it just completely messes up your aero balance.”

How did this affect Kevin Harvick?

NASCAR underwent a host of changes in recent years, from a technical standpoint. This included a 2019 parts freeze, limited research and development, and new wheel-opening templates. At Homestead-Miami, Harvick struggled before he somehow managed to bag 5th on the track.

According to Childers, the SHR outfit assessed the 550 horsepower Homestead car in the wind tunnel. Over there, they found out that some numbers were not adding up. He observed that the car was a bit too loose at Homestead, while the opposite was true at Las Vegas.

Feb 28, 2021; Homestead, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) races during the Dixie Vodka 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Harvick recorded an average lap time at Vegas that landed him 18th. As a result, he lost pole position and dropped down 4 positions within 2 laps of the start.

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From there, the strategy had to be tweaked in a massive way and they had to hope for a caution. Sadly, it backfired and he plummeted from 19th to 22nd.

In the end, he could only muster a disappointing 20th placed finish, which happens to be one of his worst finishes ever. However, Harvick was not the only one to suffer, as Cole CusterAric Almirola and Chase Briscoe have also been off the pace. Hopefully Kevin Harvick can get to the bottom of the issues and buck up.

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Dhruv George

11740 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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