Kevin Harvick already has a darkhorse contender in mind for the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Harvick believes new Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola has the skills and ability to compete for a playoff spot this year.
“Everybody has just kind of forgotten about his ability,” Harvick said via ESPN. “When he was at DEI, if you think about it, he had an opportunity to win a couple of those races and was competitive.”
Almirola struggled in recent years at Richard Petty Motorsports, and last year his season was interrupted by a brutal back injury suffered in the middle of the season.
Now, Almirola is driving the No. 10 car for SHR, and Harvick said his new teammate will be driving a much better car this year.
“He’s going to be competitive,” Harvick said. “He already knows after the first test, that it’s not him. It was the cars he was driving.
“As you see that confidence, that confidence will continue to build. He’s going to fit right in and do a great job.”
Alrmiola won his first and only Cup Series race in 2014 at Daytona, but he ran into some bad luck over the last few years. The change in scenery should help him this year and beyond, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him in the playoffs for the second time of his career.