The NASCAR Cup Series returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17. Kevin Harvick will pursue his first win since the 2020 season, which would put him in the playoffs while simultaneously breaking a historic tie.
The Closer is in a tie with driver-turned-NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton for the most wins at the 1.058-mile track. Burton first reached Victory Lane at the New England track in 1997. He then added wins in 1998, 1999, and 2000 while leading 592 total laps. This includes the 2000 race when he led all 300 laps after starting second overall.
Harvick, for comparison, first won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2006 while driving for Richard Childress Racing. He went winless at the track during the remainder of his tenure with RCR before taking Stewart-Haas Racing to Victory Lane in 2016, 2018, and 2019. Along with the wins, Harvick has remained consistent at the track by posting top-10 finishes in 57.9% of his 38 starts.
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A Good Qualifying Spot Has Not Previously Mattered as Much
Securing a spot at the front of the pack is generally important in the pursuit of victory. Though it has mattered less during previous Cup Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
According to stats provided by NASCAR, there are 10 races in which a winner has started outside of the top 20 and gone on to reach Victory Lane. This includes the 2021 season when Harvick’s teammate, Aric Almirola, started 22nd and captured his first win of the year.
Harvick has not started outside of the top 20 during his previous wins at New Hampshire, but he was outside of the top 10 for three of the races. He started 19th in 2016 before leading eight laps and winning. He then started 14th in both 2018 and 2019 before adding his third and fourth wins.
Burton is the perfect example of this trend. He started the 1999 Jiffy Lube 300 buried in the lineup and in the 38th position. He then worked his way through the field and won while pole-sitter Jeff Gordon finished third overall.
Harvick Has Favorable Odds To Win
The race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will provide Harvick with the opportunity to capture his first win since the 2020 season. He will face favorable odds as he sets out to achieve this goal and leap back above the playoff cutline.
According to the initial odds, the 2014 Cup Series champion will enter the race weekend at 16-1. He is in a tie with Christopher Bell for the third-best odds among Cup Series drivers. Chase Elliott tops the list at 10-1 amid a strong season while Kyle Larson is at 12-1. William Byron has the fifth-best odds at 18-1.
Of course, there is no clear answer about which driver will secure the win. The Next Gen era is unique in that the new cars add a level of unpredictability. No know truly knows which driver will shine on a weekly basis. Though Elliott and Harvick have both performed consistently during the 2022 season.