Harvick heads to Martinsville on NASCAR playoff bubble

With rain looming in the forecast, Kevin Harvick has more than just the Round of 8 on his mind as he heads to Martinsville.

Kevin Harvick has advanced to the Round of 8 for the third straight year. This season, however, he hopes to make it to the finale at Homestead still in the playoff hunt.

Harvick is tied with seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson for fourth place in the standings as the series heads to Martinsville Speedway. Harvick has just an 11 point cushion between him and eighth place Chase Elliott. On the flip side, Harvick sits just nine points behind Keselowski for third.

Either way you look at it, the point standings are extremely close as the Round of 8 begins and will more than likely stay that way throughout. Staying up front, especially at Martinsville, will be key for Harvick this weekend.

“I think the best position to be in at any racetrack is in the lead,” said Harvick in his pre-race advance. “You want to be in control of the race and try to get yourself in a position to where you can have a good, clean restart and have as much clear track, especially at Martinsville, just for the fact that there is so much pushing and shoving on the restarts to get to the bottom lane that you want to try to be as far forward as possible.”

Harvick has one win at Martinsville Speedway, in 2011 driving for Richard Childress Racing. In his career at Martinsville, Harvick has just three top-five finishes in 32 races. In his last three races, he has finished 17th, and 20th twice.

Weather could play a factor this weekend, and with lights finally installed at Martinsville, a whole new dynamic could be added to the playoff drama: night racing at Martinsville.

“Usually when there is rain at Martinsville, we just figure we’ll go up there and race on Monday, but now they have lights,” said Harvick. “So, if it does get delayed, we may have to run at night. The biggest issue with that is, all of our practice will be run on Saturday. So we’ll get up there late morning on Saturday and run our first practice.”

It’s very interesting that this all comes at this particular point in the year. You just have to try and take everything in and balance it all as best you can.”

A strong start at Martinsville will be key to Harvick’s ability to advance to championship round at Homestead.

Follow Matt on Twitter, @mattlovisa.

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