KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Kevin Harvick made his 500th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on Nov. 2, 2014 – quite an achievement in itself. But it is the Texas-sized numbers he has put up since then that are truly unbelievable.
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will attempt to score his 10th consecutive top-10 finish in Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500.
Dating back to last November’s race at Texas, Harvick finished second or better in eight straight points-paying events before that streak came to an end two weekends ago at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with an eighth-place finish. During his current streak of nine straight top-10s, he has four wins, four second-place finishes and the eighth-place finish. He’s led a series-high 990 laps during that time.
Harvick finished second at Texas last fall before going on to win the final two Sprint Cup races of 2014 at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Harvick and the No. 4 team started 2015 with consecutive second-place finishes in the 57th Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He then went on to win back-to-back events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix, finished second at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California before the eighth-place run at Martinsville. The last time a Sprint Cup driver finished first or second for eight consecutive events was 40 years ago, when NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty built a string of 11 top-two finishes in 1975.
Six races into 2015, Harvick sits atop the driver standings with 263 points. His five straight Sprint Cup finishes of second or better to start the season is a series record. He has led a series-high 670 laps with an average finish of 2.7 through the first six races of 2015. His 670 laps led are more than twice that of the next closest competitor – Joey Logano with 305.
The last driver to lead 670 or more laps in the first six races of a Sprint Cup season was Harvick’s SHR teammate Tony Stewart with 685 laps led through six races in 2006. Stewart finished the season with 1,360 laps led - his second highest single-season total.
Harvick is one of only three drivers to finish in the top-10 in each of the six Sprint Cup races this season. Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. are the other two. Morgan Shepherd set the record for top-10s to start a season in 1990 when he did it 11 races in a row.
Harvick leads several other statistical categories – 132.9 driver rating, 359 fastest laps run, 36.9 percentage of laps led, 764.64 miles led, 1,789 laps in the top-15, 98.5 percentage of laps in the top-15 and average running position at 4.0.
With all of that in mind, the most important number to Harvick coming into this weekend at Texas has to do with his number of trips to victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series at the Fort Worth oval – zero. But even though Harvick is still looking for his first Sprint Cup win at Texas, he has had success there in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Harvick has five wins and two poles at Texas in the Xfinity Series. He’s also scored eight top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and led 755 laps. He has an average starting position of 6.8 and finish of 8.1.
In the Truck Series, Harvick has one Texas victory, which came in 2011. He also has two top-five finishes and led 64 laps in four starts.
While Harvick is still chasing that elusive Sprint Cup Series win at Texas, his recent starts there show he may be close to finally breaking through and getting that win. He has finished in the top-10 in four of his last six races at Texas, and he led laps in both of his starts there last season.
Last November, Harvick nearly captured his first win at the track, but he fell just short when he finished a close second to Jimmie Johnson. He crossed the finish line .513 of a second behind Johnson when the checkered flag waved. Harvick wants to be more than close to victory in Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500.
The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion wants to add to his Texas-sized statistics this season and finally score his first win at the fast, mile-and-a-half oval and bring home the coveted cowboy hat trophy.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Texas is where you started your current top-10 streak. What does it mean to go back to Texas now?
“I think that the biggest goal for us is to try to win at Texas. It’s been a racetrack for me that has not been my strongest over the past several years. But I think, when you look back at last year, we had two really good race cars there. I know the first one doesn’t show the results unless you look at what happened and where we were running when it all happened. I think, when you go back this time of year, hopefully we have a chance to run well again.”
You have been very successful in the Xfinity Series at Texas. What is the biggest difference between the two series?
“I just don’t think we’ve ever had a whole day come together for whatever reason at Texas. We’ve had good runs there in the past but just haven’t got to victory lane. I think when you look at the Xfinity Series and even the Truck Series as owners and driver, we’ve been to victory lane a lot there. So, that is kind of the running joke with Eddie Gossage (Texas Motor Speedway track president) – is victory lane is open on Sunday, too? We just have to figure out how to get in there.”
How much would you like to give that back to Eddie Gossage and say, ‘Good to see you’ on Saturday night?
“Any time you can give grief back to Eddie, you’re doing good. I think when you look at everything that happened last year, I mean, it’s just a matter of putting the day together and having it all go your way.”
Do you have a favorite Texas memory?
“I think probably one of my favorite Texas memories came from the Xfinity Series. It was probably in 2000 racing against Mark Martin. That was my first, I thought, real opportunity to win a race. It kind of had rained and a lot of different things were going on during the day. We were leading the race and racing with Mark. At that particular time, Mark and his team were the guys who were winning all the races – he and Jeff Burton in the Xfinity Series. For me, that was my first year and we were running really well and ran out of gas and wound up not winning the race. That was kind of the first moment I really realized that we can race with just about anybody on the track.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine