The most intense moments of the playoffs are often found in the cutoff races. Every three races, four drivers are eliminated from playoff contention. That takes place under the lights tonight at Bristol, where emotions always go into overdrive. The driver in the deepest hole is Harvick, who's only chance to advance to the Round of 12 is to win tonight.

Harvick is no stranger to having his back up against the wall. In fact, the Stewart Haas Racing driver typically relishes in those moments. In the first season of the elimination format, Harvick was facing a must-win situation at Phoenix. He did just that, earning his spot into the Championship Four, where he won again the following week at Homestead to claim the 2014 title. He also won during the playoffs the following year, facing elimination at Dover.

Harvick has three wins at Bristol, and nearly went back-to-back last year. He nearly made it two in a row, but his runner-up finish was not one that he was happy with.

Things got testy in that race one year ago. Battling Chase Elliott for the lead with 35 laps remaining, the two made contact, which cut a tire on Elliott's car, taking him out of contention. As Harvick fought Chase's teammate Kyle Larson, the two touched again and Larson was able to squeeze by Kevin for the win. Harvick and Elliott both ended up advancing to the next round, but the two had a heated exchange when their cars came to a stop on pit road.

Redemption may be on the menu tonight, but that is just one of the items on Kevin's long list of things to do. Winning is their only hope, and they are exhausting all of their resources to make that happen.

No driver has more top-five finishes (14) or top-ten finishes (21) at Bristol. His 13.2 average finishing position here ranks fourth among active drivers and only Kyle Busch has led more than him. Harvick has led 1,209 laps at this track and will likely cross the 20,000 laps completed during tonight's race. At least, that is the plan.

Much like Daytona and Talladega, anything can happen here. Bristol is not for the faint of heart, or gentlemen drivers. In order to win here, you have to be aggressive and picking and choosing your battles is crucial.

When it comes to luck and teamwork, Harvick believes that one is more valuable than the other at Bristol.

"Having a car that runs well is a much higher piece of the equation, especially in the position that we’ve been in. It's been all hands on deck and we're learning on the fly as we race week to week. The biggest key for us in order to get our cars back to being capable of winning has been the experience of the team, and communication. The experience of our team and having those honest relationships with each other is very important."

In addition to his three victories, Harvick has finished 2nd here six times. While most drivers would gladly accept that and move on, that will not get the job done tonight. A win is the only thing that matters, and other playoff drivers are well aware of that fact. Fellow drivers should proceed with caution when they are around the No. 4 Mustang, especially in the final stage of the race.

There is one thing that separates Harvick from most of the other drivers that could also benefit him tomorrow. "Experience. I think experience goes a long way as you go down this road. Obviously, it’s different than the regular season because there’s so much on the line, but our guys have been through that battle. Plus, we don’t have anything to lose."

This is the first time the NextGen car will be on the Bristol pavement, as the race earlier this year was on dirt. Kevin definitely prefers this event, for a variety of reasons.

"The Bristol Night Race has always been an event that seems to just bring the best out of everybody, as far as competition and chaos. For our sport, it’s just been that bookmark that always shows up every year, that always creates excitement. There’s always a full house and the crowd is always there to see the action. Year after year, it lives up to that, and now it’s part of the playoffs."

"Being in the playoffs now and being a part of this event for a long time just gets you jacked up as a driver. It’s just a very intense place to race. It’s an intense place to just make laps, honestly. As you get into that race and understand the magnitude of the situation, especially with Bristol being in the playoffs, it’s something that I just think is very challenging and exciting to be a part of."

Qualifying is not as important at a track like this as it would be most other places, but starting up front does help. The last four races at Bristol have been won by a driver starting inside the top five. Kevin won here in 2016 after starting in 24th, and also won from the 13th starting position. He’ll roll off even better tonight after qualifying in 7th. All of his focus is now on the 500 laps tonight.