Kevin The ‘Closer’ Harvick is the favorite at Michigan

Kevin Harvick has had a frustrating season by Kevin Harvick standards. He hasn’t won a race yet. Yet.

The 2014 Cup champion and driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang does show up at Michigan as the top-rated driver among those with more than six previous starts at the track. He’s won twice – including the second Michigan race last summer and has 17 top-10 finishes – most among active drivers. His 12 top-five finishes are twice as many as any other competitor except Jimmie Johnson, who has 13.

Harvick has five top-five finishes in his last seven Michigan races, including a runner-up and victory. His average finish of 10.75 in 36 starts is best among all active drivers except Chase Elliott, who has a 5.333 average finish in only six starts.

“How you finish at Michigan depends on how your day is going,’’ Harvick said. “If you’re having a good day, it’s not really hard to tell your guys what you need, and everyone is in a good mood. If you’re having a bad day, you can get behind at Michigan really fast. You’re going to end up with a green-flag pit stop and a whole bunch of green flag laps. You just have to be going from the time the green flag drops and keep yourself in position at the end.’’

It could all spell a huge victory pick-me-up for the perennial championship contending team. Through the season’s opening 14 races, Harvick has nine top-10 finishes and five top-five showings and has won a series best three pole positions. He’s led 282 laps (in six races), including a race high 104 laps at Kansas Speedway last month, only to finish 13th.

He’s been ranked among the championship top-five all season – as high as second place after Las Vegas – and is ranked fifth now the only member of that top-five group without a win.