Kevin Harvick Confesses to Coming Within Half a Second of a Monumental Gaffe

It took just two races to erase nearly two years of questions about what’s happened to Kevin Harvick. Back-to-back wins at Michigan and Richmond did more than just shut down the talk about his 65 consecutive NASCAR Cup Series starts without a victory. Those races have shifted the conversation to whether we must rate Harvick as the favorite to win the championship.

Had the Richmond race gone one lap longer, though, we might all be talking about how the longtime NASCAR star gave one away to Christopher Bell and how it surely confirmed the decline fans have been discussing until last week.

Kevin Harvick is making a statement

Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on Aug. 14, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on Aug. 14, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Given that 15 drivers have done it this season, we’ll spare the cliche about how winning in the NASCAR Cup Series is tough. On the other hand, winning twice in eight days on drastically different ovals is a different matter. Kevin Harvick followed the victory at two-mile Michigan International Speedway by winning on the three-quarter-mile track at Richmond Raceway.

Doing so constitutes a statement. Chase Elliott may own four victories and a nearly insurmountable lead in the regular-season points race, but even that doesn’t establish the Hendrick Motorsports star and 2020 series champion as the favorite.

Harvick’s two victories late in the season far outweigh four finishes of 30th or worse earlier and qualify him as a contender to reach the Championship 4 for the first time since 2019.

Kevin Harvick nearly gave the Richmond victory to Christopher Bell

As was the case a week early at Michigan when he never led until the final 38 laps, Kevin Harvick was a late arrival at Richmond. He didn’t lead until Lap 334 of the scheduled 400 and went out front for good on Lap 353.

Chris Buescher held down second place nearly the whole time but couldn’t close in on the lead. Running on tires 11 laps newer than Harvick’s No. 4 Ford, Christopher Bell moved into second on Lap 396 and charged hard in cutting Harvick’s advantage from nearly two seconds to under half a second at the checkered flag.

Neither Bell nor the winner realized at the time just how much easier Harvick was making it for the No. 20 Toyota to create a close finish.

“I knew he was coming, but I forgot to shift down the front straightaway the last time,” Harvick told NBC Sports immediately after the race. “I was not paying attention, and he got closer than he should have.

“I made a mistake there a couple laps doing the same thing. I wasn’t shifting on the back, and I was shifting in the front. There was a lot going on, and (I) made a couple mistakes, let him get too close.”

One more lap might have meant Bell completing his day in Victory Lane.

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