The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.
Kevin Harvick checks in at No. 2 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:
“Harvick is the hottest driver in NASCAR right now, even though he didn’t win the championship (last year),” says one former driver. “He’s the champion of 2014 and there’s no doubt he was the fastest car, leading in every category in 2015. He had a record amount of second-place finishes and still is, in my opinion, the man to beat. Harvick performs more consistently up front than any driver in the sport right now. He’s the fastest driver. He just missed the championship by one spot last year, and there is no doubt he’ll be right up there contending for it again in 2016.”
“Rodney Childers is the perfect crew chief for Harvick. I think a lot of people see Childers as the next Chad Knaus in the Sprint Cup garage,” one rival driver says. “(Childers) always has had a lot of respect from his peers, because they always realized his potential and his talent. Once he got with the No. 4 team and Stewart-Haas Racing, the chemistry with Harvick was solid right off the bat, and he’s had the opportunity to showcase how good he really is.
“If they keep them together for a long time — and there’s no reason to think they won’t — they’ll probably just keep getting better and better and start finishing off more of the races where they fell just a little short with more wins. That’s a little scary for everybody else in the garage.”
Up front early and often: Harvick has led 4,431 laps over the last two seasons, tops on the circuit by a wide margin. His 48 bonus points last season also paced the Sprint Cup field, and he posted a whopping 20 finishes inside the top 3. That means 56 percent of the time last year Harvick was guaranteed to earn your roster a top-3 result.
Phoenix flame: Harvick has four victories in his last five starts at the one-mile oval and hasn’t finished worse than second since taking over the No. 4 car in 2014. If not for a bizarre, rain-shortened ending that allowed Dale Earnhardt Jr. to squeak by last November, he’d have five in a row.
Short circuit: If there’s one small kink in the armor for Harvick, it’s at the three tracks on the schedule shorter than a mile: Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond. He has just one victory on those three the last four seasons (Richmond, 2013) and has three runs of 31st or worse in his last 12 starts.