'Underdog' Harvick still expects to win 2017 NASCAR Cup title

Kevin Harvick says he goes into the 2017 NASCAR Cup title decider as the underdog but expects to be champion

'Underdog' Harvick still expects to win 2017 NASCAR Cup title

The Texas win that secured Harvick's place in the four-way championship showdown at Homestead this weekend was only his second of the season.

He believes "the pressure is really on" Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch, who have won seven and five races this season respectively.

"Those guys have dominated the year," 2014 champion Harvick said.

"I feel like if they don't win at this point, they would probably feel like they've had a letdown.

"It's a lot of fun coming from behind and playing catch-up.

"Playing that underdog role is much easier than being expected to go down there and win.

"We expect to win."

Harvick's Stewart-Haas team switched from Chevrolet to Ford equipment ahead of the 2017 season.

He feels the team's form heading into Homestead is "by far our best" of the season, adding "it's the right time of year to be peaking".

But he believes the upheaval of the manufacturer switch makes just being in championship contention an achievement.

"We're really, really happy with where we are just for the fact that as a company we know what we went through," Harvick said.

"We are kind of playing on house money at this point, so we're going to go down there and wing it, see what happens."

Of the four title contenders, Harvick, Busch and Brad Keselowski have all won one Cup championship - with Harvick's and Busch's coming under the present winner-takes-all system.

Truex made it to the final round in 2015, while Harvick and Busch also did so in their title defence seasons but fell short.

Keselowski has not reached the final four since the format was introduced.

"These guys are not just going to cave in and give up on what they're doing," Harvick said of his rivals.

"Three of us have won championships, and Martin has won a lot of races this year."

The champion has won the deciding race at Homestead every year since the present system's debut in 2014, and Harvick - who claimed that title - said none of the protagonists could afford to underestimate the pressure on them.

"Our intention is to go down there and win the championship, and I think if you're one of those four and you don't have that mentality, you're not prepared for what you're getting into," he said.

"I feel like you're going to have to win the race.

"You're going to have to not make mistakes, and we've seen it year after year - mistakes and circumstances and things happen.

"You have to have a chance, and you have to think you can do it, and we know we can do it."

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