No one is benefiting more from NASCAR’s new race format than Kevin Harvick. We’re two races into the season and if you look at Harvick’s finishes (22nd at Daytona, 9th in Atlanta) you’d think he was outside of the top 10 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings. But, if you take a glance at the actual standings itself heading into race No. 3 this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, you’d see Harvick’s name at the top.
Yes, a winless driver after two races with just one top 20 finish is leading the points standings. How you might ask? Because of the new stages.
NASCAR is awarding points to just the top 10 finishers in each of the first two stages of every race. The third and final stage will award points as normal. So, if you’re in the top 10 at the end of the first two stages, you get points.
Harvick, has done that in all four tries, winning three of them. The only problem is that he isn’t winning the final stage and taking the race winning trophy with him.
At Daytona, Harvick was caught up in a melee in Turn 3 just after the halfway point of the race. In Atlanta, he’d lead 293 of the 325 laps, but he’d get caught speeding on pit road on the final pit stop with 15 laps-to-go. Despite those issues, he’s still in the points lead all due to the fact that he has 47 stage points.
Yes, 47 of his current 90 points have come from the first two stages. Take those away, and Harvick is sitting in 17th in the Cup standings at this point.
So, if that doesn’t in fact turn up action in each of the first two stages, I don’t know what will. Harvick, can literally win a championship on stage points alone. Stats don’t lie.