Harvick is at the moment ninth within the sequence standings – and nonetheless possible headed for the NASCAR Cup Sequence playoffs – however he’s far off his stellar 2020 season during which he gained a career-high 9 races and led greater than 1500 laps.
Harvick has but to earn a win this season and has led a complete of 39 laps within the first 20 races. He’s nonetheless prime at SHR as the subsequent highest driver in factors – Chase Briscoe – is 23rd.
“You’ll be able to take a look at it beginning again within the fall final 12 months we began to form of lose our stride just a little bit and the Hendrick vehicles received going actually good there on the finish of the 12 months,” mentioned Rodney Childers, Harvick’s crew chief.
“This 12 months, we’ve simply form of been off just a little bit all 12 months lengthy, regardless of if it’s been a street course or a 550 (hp) race or a 750 (hp) race, form of off all collectively.
“It’s positively been robust. All people has been working actually onerous making an attempt to get higher.
“As , too, it’s robust to begin reeling all that again in. We’ve made some positive aspects, however we haven’t simply been knocking it out of the park so far as catching up, so we simply should preserve working and hopefully get higher.”
Atlanta Motor Speedway has been one in all Harvick’s finest tracks, significantly becoming a member of SHR in 2014. He has only one end exterior the highest 10 in his final eight begins on the observe.
Within the March race, Harvick appeared to have a aggressive automotive however needed to pit proper earlier than a restart early within the race attributable to a flat tyre from a damaged valve stem. He fell a lap down and spent nearly all of the rest of the race battling again up by means of the sector.
“This 12 months at Atlanta I feel we simply form of missed it just a little bit. We have been additional off on our vehicles early within the 12 months than what we thought, and simply a variety of little issues that I in all probability don’t have to get into, however, total, I feel our automotive this weekend needs to be just a little bit higher,” Childers mentioned.
“I’m not going to say that we are able to simply blow the doorways off all people, however hopefully we are able to run with them and have a shot.”
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Mild Apple
Photograph by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images
Harvick agrees he in all probability had one in all his higher vehicles of the 12 months within the first Atlanta race however it was clear SHR was nonetheless not on tempo with a few of its opponents.
“Ryan Blaney gained the race and we raced proper with Blaney initially of the race. The unlucky half for us was two issues – the premature pit cease that we needed to have due to the valve stem, and [Kyle Larson] was extraordinarily quick,” he mentioned.
“So, each time we might go vehicles, he would go extra vehicles and there simply weren’t a variety of cautions and we by no means may get again to the place we would have liked to be till the very finish of the race. I actually felt like we had a top-five automotive in that specific race.
“It wasn’t a automotive that was as quick as we’d prefer to have able to successful the race and setting the tempo, however it positively put us behind and we by no means may make it up due to how briskly (Larson) was.”
Since NASCAR is shifting to its Subsequent Gen automotive in 2022, there have been a number of limitations on analysis and growth choices for groups this 12 months with the present automotive.
For organisations behind and making an attempt to battle their means again into rivalry, that leaves fewer choices for enchancment to pursue.
“My sincere reply is it form of is what it’s at this level. You don’t have many races left earlier than the playoffs. We’ll in all probability go to the wind tunnel two extra occasions earlier than the playoffs begin, perhaps 3 times,” Childers mentioned.
“So, from a automotive facet, we’re probably not going to make the vehicles significantly better than the place they’re at this weekend at Atlanta.
“From an engine facet, these guys have been locked up all 12 months lengthy.
“They needed to submit all of their components going into this 12 months they usually can’t change all of the issues that we’ve been in a position to change in years previous to have the ability to discover extra horsepower, both.
“So, when you may’t discover extra horsepower and you may’t discover extra downforce, it places you in a good field.”