Race Weekend Central

Harvick The Bridesmaid Yet Again

For a driver, there is no further distance than between first and second place. No position leaves a more bitter taste, and no result leaves as cruel a mark. For a competitor, second may as well be dead last.

It’s not that finishing second means you’ve had a bad day. On the contrary, to finish second in a field of 43 cars is not an easy task. Rather, to finish second and be so close to the victory you can taste it is what makes the position such a bitter pill to swallow. In a sport that is all about winning, finishing second is just one step away. It’s awful.

If that’s the case, it must suck to be Kevin Harvick.

Now, wait a minute. Harvick is the defending champion! He’s won twice this year and is currently leading the championship standings. Not that it means too much since the points reset after Richmond, but all the same, he’s accrued the most points so far this season! Why would it suck to be Harvick?

I’m sure you are aware that Matt Kenseth won the race last Sunday in Michigan, but did you notice who finished second? That’s right. Harvick.

Okay, okay, so he finished second once. Big deal. He still had a fantastic season last year and is having a great season this year. It still doesn’t suck to be Harvick … right?

Except that second-place finish was Harvick’s ninth runner-up result this season. His ninth.

Last year, Harvick finished second a total of six times.

Now, granted, it’s Harvick’s ability to finish in the top five that allowed him to win the championship last season and has put him at the top of the standings so far this year. But … ugh. Nine times! That’s the kind of ridiculous statistic you see in movies, the hero coming up just short time and time again before finally breaking through.

Of course, that’s not the case for Harvick. His 16 top fives this season are the best in the series and his two victories are bested only by Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. No one would be surprised to see him win the championship again and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to think that Harvick will make it back to Victory Lane a time again or two this season.

Even so, I can’t imagine finishing second so many times this season doesn’t start to grate on Harvick after a while. How many times did he need just another lap, just another gallon of fuel, or just a little more rubber on the tires? Harvick is a competitor who has been around long enough to know that you can’t win them all, but still competitive enough for days like Sunday to be annoying as heck. Strong enough to win, but coming up just short.

Two wins. 16 top fives. 20 top 10s. Defending Sprint Cup Series champion. Maybe things aren’t so bad for Harvick after all.

But still … Second sucks.

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