The elimination of Kevin Harvick in the Round of 8 caused a stir of varied reactions around the world. The fact that the seven-time race winner in the regular season was ousted, came as a disappointment to him. Denny Hamlin, who finished above the cutoff line to make the final four, sympathized with Harvick.
He also knows it will be different when he goes racing against the Stewart-Haas Racing man.
Speaking in the pre-race media conference, Hamlin stated, “I continued to have conversations with Kevin this week, just talking about the season and kind of‑‑ it’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to go head to head and things like that. Even though we will, it’s just different.”
Harvick and Hamlin won 13 of the 26 races conducted prior to the playoffs. All that counted for naught in the end. However, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver feels Harvick deserved to be racing in the Championship race.
“Most of the year we kind of looked at its head to head, me and him, right. I think obviously in my mind he was deserving of racing for a championship but didn’t earn it because of the system, right.”
The consistency from the two experienced drivers would have certainly made for an interesting matchup at Phoenix. Such is the tricky nature that one has to be on the money to advance to the consequent rounds in the playoffs.
After blitzing the normal season of 26 races, Harvick should have carried on with the momentum. However, finishing outside of the Top 10 twice barring Kansas, saw him get eliminated.
“He had a couple mediocre finishes, not races but just finishes. And it didn’t allow him to move on, even though he’s put together just an unbelievable season.”
“We’ve had those conversations. And certainly, I’m not going to view if we win it any different whether he was in or out I guess you could say,” Hamlin said.
“I’ve talked to Rodney (Childers), I’ve talked to Kevin, and yeah, I mean, I understand their pain,” concluded Hamlin in his comments.
Perhaps a higher finish in Martinsville would have tilted the tide in Harvick’s favor. Nevertheless, the onus is now on Hamlin to take the impetus, and secure his maiden Cup Series championship.