NASCAR: Kevin Harvick didn’t clinch a playoff spot

NASCAR: Kevin Harvick didn’t clinch a playoff spot

Published August 8, 2022
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Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

For the first time in nearly two years, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick found himself in victory lane following Sunday afternoon’s rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

With his victory in Sunday’s 200-lap FireKeepers Casino 400 around the four-turn, 2.0-mile (3.219-kilometer) Brooklyn, Michigan oval, Harvick is the 15th different driver to win at some point throughout the 2022 season’s first 23 races.

Because there are still three races remaining on the regular season schedule, there could still be as many as 18 different winners before the playoffs.

With just 16 playoff spots available no matter how many winners there are, this means that there could be one or two winners who miss out on the postseason, despite the “win and in” concept that is often (incorrectly) associated with the playoff format.

In this scenario, the regular season champion and the multi-race winners are locked into the playoffs, but the point standings determine which single-race winners get in and which ones don’t.

There are still 180 points on offer over the course of the season’s final three races, with 60 available per race (10 for winning stage one, 10 for winning stage two, and 40 for winning the race).

Harvick sits 133 points ahead of 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch, who is currently the lowest placed single-race winner, and 87 points ahead of Team Penske rookie Austin Cindric, who is currently the second lowest.

Of course, this statistic serves two purposes: first of all, it shows Harvick hasn’t mathematically clinched, but secondly, it shows that there is very little reason to believe he won’t be in the playoffs.

After all, he does sit in ninth place in the point standings, which positions him higher than five of the other eight single-race winners.

So while it isn’t a guarantee, Harvick is well on his way to a 13th consecutive playoff berth, and despite all the talk that followed him throughout the season’s first 22 races, the 2022 season will not be his first season without one since 2009.