Sunday, September 2, 2018

PixelatedPICK: Can Harvick Tame the Lady in Black?

This week’s PixelatedPICK goes to Kevin Harvick. He is a former winner of the Southern 500 and with seven wins this season, he is undoubtedly a contender. He may have some added motivation as well, after a heated contest versus Ross Chastain in the Saturday Xfinity Series race. 

Harvick has one win at Darlington Raceway, coming in April of 2014. In that race, he led 238 laps, beating Dale Earnhardt Jr. Yes, this technically a Southern 500 win, but most fans hold the April date in a different light compared to the traditional Labor Day timeframe.

Going back to Saturday, Harvick began the day with a 22nd place qualifying effort for this year’s running of the Southern 500. He has a way to go to get to the front, but he is known as the “Closer”, always finding a way to be in contention at the end of the race.

He continued his Saturday adventure attempting to claim his first Xfinity Series win at Darlington, and came very close to achieving that feat. Harvick battled lap after lap with Ross Chastain in the final stage of the Sport Clips 200. His day ended early, however, on lap 110 after contact with Chastain while trying to take the lead. The two collided, sending Chastain up the track and into the wall. Chastain then hooked Harvick on the back stretch and sent him into the wall head on, ending his day.

A furious Harvick emerged from the infield care center with choice words about Chastain and the incident.

“I tried to stay as low as I could and he just rode on my door,” Harvick said. “That’s just a really inexperienced racer and a really bad move there and got the air and got on beside me and just kept going up the race track. I couldn’t do anything with the wheel. So, you’ve got a really inexperienced guy in a really fast car and made a really bad move, and then wrecked me down the back straightaway and hooked me to the right. That’s probably the reason that he’ll never get to drive many of them again.”

It’s that fire that I think will motivate Harvick to victory in this year’s Southern 500. After all, it's been a whole two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races since his last win in Michigan, so the Bakersfield driver is overdue.

Okay, in all seriousness, Kevin Harvick has nothing to prove by winning the race after the incident with Ross Chastain. Come race time, I’m sure that affair will be far from his thoughts as he focuses in on 500 miles around the sports toughest track. 

Simply put, there are three drivers that the NASCAR world is focused on. Kyle Busch is more than capable of pulling off the win, and is sure to be a threat after finishing second last year to teammate Denny Hamlin. Martin Truex Jr. led 76 laps in last year’s race, and is looking for a strong run amid the uncertainty of he and his team for next season.

In the end, however, I think that Kevin Harvick is in the groove right now, and will come out on top with his second Southern 500 trophy. 

Each week PixelatedSPEED will pick one driver, or team, as the PixelatedPICK. No fantasy rosters, leagues, budgets, or any of that other inflated fantasy stuff... just one driver... win or lose... for the fun of it!  If you've made it this far into the post, thank you. Please consider sharing this content on the interwebs and following PixelatedSPEED on Facebook and Twitter and joining in on the conversation. &

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