Kevin Harvick finished second Sunday at Fontana, California, extending his run of top-two finishes to eight consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup races. Only one other driver in Cup Series history has a longer streak: Richard Petty.
Petty’s series record is 11 consecutive top-two finishes in 1975. He also has several others longer than Harvick's, whose streak dates to the 2014 season. David Pearson (1968) also has a streak of eight top-two finishes.
Comparing Harvick’s streak to Petty’s run of 11
Depending on one’s viewpoint, Harvick’s streak could be considered more impressive than Petty’s 11 in a row.
Petty paced the field for 33 percent of his laps during that streak, whereas Harvick has been leading for more than 37 percent of the laps during his past eight starts.
Moreover, the competition at the top of the field is possibly tighter. During Petty’s run, an average of 2.3 cars finished on the lead lap each start. During Harvick’s streak, that average is 25.5 cars on the lead lap.
In Petty’s streak he had six victories. Harvick has four among his last eight races.
Why Harvick might stretch it to nine
Harvick’s statistics in the past eight races make a convincing case. He has four wins (second-best is two wins). He has led 836 laps (second-best is 367 laps led). The next-most consistent finisher in these eight races has an average finish of 6.8 compared with Harvick’s average finish of 1.5.
Harvick has accomplished this on a variety of tracks, ranging from intermediates (from 1 to 2 miles) to Daytona (2½ miles).
Harvick has run 301 fastest laps in five starts this season, 201 more than anyone else. That’s good for 27.7 percent of the laps run under green this year.
Why the streak might end
The next stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour is Sunday in Martinsville. Harvick was involved in a wreck there in the fall and finished 33rd – the race preceding the start of his streak.
Last fall’s Martinsville race was the most recent event Harvick has run on a short track. He has won at the track once, but he has finished out of the top five in 24 of 27 starts there.
His average finish in at Martinsville is 16.4. He has paced the field for one lap in his past five starts there.