One races under the rules that are in effect. Under the old points system, Kevin Harvick's season would almost certainly have resulted in a Championship. Instead, his inability to find the right setup for Homestead-Miami Speedway resulted in his second consecutive third-place ranking.
Still, from a fantasy standpoint, he was one of two bests values of the season. With eight wins and a ton of Segment Points, he guided many players to Hallowed Ground in Fantasy NASCAR.
Winning began early with three consecutive at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Ingenuity Sun Media Raceway (Phoenix). He won again a few weeks later in back-to-back races at Dover International Speedway and Kansas Speedway.
When Harvick was not winning, he was most often among the top five. He finished at the very front of the pack on 23 occasions (64 percent of the time). He had 29 top-10s (81%), so placing and holding him was an easy decision on a weekly basis.
Making that even more remarkable was the fact that this team had a propensity for making mistakes – almost weekly, it seemed. On numerous occasions throughout the season, Harvick was caught speeding on pit road or his team was penalized for illegal actions during service. They failed to tighten lugnuts – forcing him back into the pits and costing track position or even laps. Moreover, the team often employed the wrong strategy.
One might say Harvick carried the car on his back – but it's not nearly that simple. The real answer is likely that the team was so much better than the competition most weeks, that hiccups simply did not faze them.
Of course, there may have been a reason for that. The No. 4 was hit with major penalties twice during the season (at Las Vegas and Texas Motor Speedway ). Harvick was unapologetic about the discovered cheating, saying he expected nothing less from crew chief Rodney Childers. The impact was low and did not effect his title hopes in either incident.
That won't be the case this year. NASCAR announced during the off-season that illegal cars will be disqualified not only of the benefits of their win, but also the wins themselves. One suspects that penalties will cascade and the effect of getting caught coloring outside the lines will be heavier with each successive incident. Fantasy owners should expect teams to be more cautious – even Childers.
We do not know what advantage the No. 4 team found last year. It's pointless to speculate – but if that advantage was not allowed by NASCAR's rule book, Harvick will not be nearly as dominant in 2019 as he was in 2018.