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SPARTA, Ky. -- Much more has been written this year about drivers who have done much less.
That fact may or may not concern Kevin Harvick. Given his detachment from anything that doesn't make his No. 29 Chevrolet more competitive on the race track, it's unlikely he's paid it much mind.
For a driver that has won two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season, and currently sits fourth in points headed into Sunday's postponed Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway (Noon ET, TNT), Harvick appears to have quietly flown under the radar for quite some time.
No doubt the competition has noticed. With the series beginning a 10-race stretch to determine this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, teams are scrambling to set themselves up for a potential playoff run. No team has been more consistent of late than the Richard Childress Racing team of Harvick and crew chief Gil Martin.
Not points leader Jimmie Johnson, who noted on Friday that, "life is pretty comfortable up where we are."
Not Matt Kenseth, whose three victories this season can't hide the fact that his Joe Gibbs Racing entry has been saddled with three DNFs as well.
Not even Carl Edwards, No. 2 in points and now apparently getting his No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford on track.
It's Harvick, having banked six consecutive top-10 finishes, and seven in his last eight outings, that has shown the most consistency.
The 37-year-old will go off 22nd in tonight's 43-car field, the result, he said, not so much of a poor qualifying attempt as simply bad timing.
"We knew with the early draw that it was kind of going to be hit or miss," Harvick said, noting that while the result wasn't what the team had hoped, "that is still four-tenths (of a second) faster than we ran in our mock qualifying run at the end (of practice.)
"We knew it wasn't going to be very good with our draw. We have a good race car."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start on the pole, thanks to a bit of cloud cover and a track-record lap of 183.636 mph. Edwards will join theHendrick Motorsports driver on the front row, while Johnson, Kyle Busch and Marcos Ambrose will start third through fifth.
Harvick has yet to score a top-10 finish on the 1.5-mile Kentucky track, but tonight's race will be just the third appearance for Cup teams there. He finished 11th a year ago, 16th the year before.
"This is just a really rough race track," he said. "There is nothing wrong with the race track; it is just rough."
The key, he said, will be having the right amount of adjustability in the car, enough to allow Martin and his crew to continue to dial it in as the track conditionschange. Testing at the track earlier gave the group a laundry list of potential changes, but until he's on track with a full field, Harvick said, it's difficult to know what to expect.
"You have to have adjustability in your car no matter where you are," he said, "because you never know what the conditions are going to be like when you start the race in a pack."
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