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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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    Kevin Harvick out to stop earliest playoff elimination of career

    Concord, N.C. — This is it for Kevin Harvick, a winner of nine races just last year and now on the verge of his earliest career playoff knockout. The steadiest guy in the garage is winless this season — he’s on a 38-race losing streak — and needs a big day at Charlotte Motor Speedway to avoid playoff elimination.

    Harvick has made it through the second round of the playoffs every year since the elimination format started in 2014, the year he won his only Cup title. Harvick is such a solid bet to be a contender because he’s always in the hunt, always among the leaders, and he’s advanced to the championship round in five of seven seasons.

    And yet he heads to the Roval at Charlotte on Sunday ranked ninth in the standings, the first driver below the cutline. The field will be trimmed from 12 to eight after this race, and Harvick lags nine points below the final transfer position.

    Harvick, the same guy who slammed his helmet in rage after on-track shenanigans with reigning champion Chase Elliott cost him a win last month, was surreally serene headed into the make-or-break race.

    “I’m kind of a creature of habit, do the same things on a weekly basis, and it’s just another race,” Harvick said. “I know that sounds cliché and boring and all the things that come with that, but you just have to go out there and do what you do, the best you can, and see where it falls.”

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