Define what it means to be “clutch” in a situation. It is a common thing in sports to be the go-to individual a team looks to in order to have something happen.
It’s seen in football all the time. Down in the final quarter, needing a touchdown to pull off the victory, and the call goes to the leader of the offense to get the victory.
Just ask Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes, because they were clutch in order to get the win in Super Bowl XLIII.
It’s being down in the 9th inning, and a runner in scoring position. A pitch hits the sweet spot, and the batter connects to bring home that runner to the plate. Game over.
It’s that final shot as the buzzer sounds, just like when Villanova stunned North Carolina on the final shot to victory.
How exactly does being “clutch” get used in racing? Just consider this, from 2004 through 2013, the Chase was 10 races to win a championship. As the races went, it was a bit easier to see who would be champion, and sometimes that champion didn’t have to do much in the final race to ensure the title came their way. When the 16-driver Chase Grid came into existence, it wasn’t 10 races to determine a champion. Instead, it was three races in three rounds to narrow it down to the four to go for the title.
And just to make it into the next round was a challenge, as after three races, four drivers got eliminated, and points would be made all even.
The only guarantee to make it into the next round was a Chase driver had to win a Chase race.
When the season is on the line, and a championship is in the eyes, being clutch means winning a race after having a tough week.
That is what Kevin Harvick has thrived on. A week ago, his No. 4 suddenly shut off, and when it was attempted to restart, things went even worse. It meant he needed to simply win in order to ensure his team would continue their quest for a title. Not to mention, he didn’t want to go into the third race of this round hoping to escape with either a win, or enough points to advance.
His only choice was to somehow win the race at Kansas. Well, he’s not called the “Closer” because he isn’t able to close a deal when it counts.
Harvick went out, led laps, and when it counted the most, drove away from the field. When that checkered flag waved, the clutch performance of his team meant that his championship hopes would continue for three more races. He could start the race next week and have the engine blow up immediately, and he would still compete for that title because he won the previous week.
His clutch performance was winning when things weren’t going right, and he pulled it off. “Happy” Harvick is on his way to the Round of 8.
RESULTS: 1-Harvick 2-Edwards 3-Logano 4-Johnson 5-Kyle Busch 6-Dillon 7-Bowman 8-Allmendinger 9-Kenseth 10-Kahne
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Truex Jr. 13-Kurt Busch 15-Hamlin 16-Stewart 31-Elliott 38-Keselowski
CAUTIONS: 8 for 38 laps. Laps: 27-30 (Debris-BS); 37-41 (#43, 44, 23 Accident-T4); 45-47 (#1 Accident-T3); 116-120 (#30 Accident-T4); 178-183 (#42 Accident-T2); 191-198 (#2, 11 Accident-FS); 222-225 (Fluid On Track From #2); 235-237 (#7 Accident-T3).
LEAD CHANGES: 16 among 10 drivers. M. Kenseth 1-27; Kurt Busch 28; M. Kenseth 29-86; J. Logano 87; B. Keselowski 88; D. Hamlin 89; C. Mears 90-94; M. Kenseth 95-125; K. Harvick 126-168; C. Elliott 169-172; C. Edwards 173; J. Logano 174; C. Edwards 175-221; K. Harvick 222; A. Dillon 223-224; C. Edwards 225-237; K. Harvick 238-267.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 28 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 133.155 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.183 MPH
CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP: 1. Johnson, 3082 (Points)*; 2. Kenseth, -8; 3. Kyle Busch, -10; 4. Edwards, -13; 5. Kurt Busch, -20; 6. Truex, -24; 7. Harvick, -34*; 8. Logano, -37; 9. Dillon, -37; 10. Hamlin, -43; 11. Keselowski, -44; 12. Elliott, -62; 13. Stewart, -951; 14. Larson, -962; 15. Buescher, -992; 16. McMurray, -994.
*Advanced into next round of Chase.