KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has been “Freaky Fast” in his last three visits to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and looks to win his fourth consecutive Sprint Cup pole at the speedway for Saturday night’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Harvick swept the pole position for both Sprint Cup races at Kansas Speedway last season and broke his own track qualifying record last October during the second round of qualifying for the Hollywood Casino 400 with his lap of 27.304 seconds at 197.773 mph. The effort secured Harvick his third straight Sprint Cup pole at Kansas Speedway.
The reigning Sprint Cup champion hasn’t always been known for his qualifying prowess. Harvick scored the sixth Sprint Cup pole of his career with a lap of 187.526 mph in October 2013. The pole snapped a 254-race pole drought dating back to September 2006. Harvick has gone on to win nine more Sprint Cup poles in the 53 Sprint Cup races since his first pole at Kansas in October 2013.
During Harvick’s streak of consecutive Sprint Cup poles at Kansas, he also has scored one win, two top-five finishes and three top-10 finishes, while leading 318 of 801 laps – nearly 40 percent of the total laps run.
The feature of Kansas Speedway that should best influence another strong showing by Harvick and the No. 4 team is the size of the racetrack. In the last 10 Sprint Cup races on 1.5-mile tracks, Harvick has scored three wins, two poles, seven top-five finishes and eight top-10s and led 907 laps.
The Bakersfield, California, native has finished either first or second in his last six Sprint Cup starts on 1.5-mile racetracks. He has wins at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2014 and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2015 during that streak. He finished second at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in 2014 and Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas in 2015.
Harvick’s spot in the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship is secured with two wins in the first 10 races, as the No. 4 has been dominant just about every weekend.
Ten races into 2015, Harvick sits atop the driver standings with 394 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 953 laps with an average finish of 6.6 thus far. His 953 laps led are nearly twice as many as the next-closest competitor – SHR teammate Kurt Busch’s 521.
Harvick leads several other statistical categories: 126.7 driver rating, 543 fastest laps run, 20.7 percent of fastest laps run, 29.3 percent of laps led, 1,010.88 miles led, 2,953 laps in the top-15, 90.9 percent of laps in the top-15, average running position at 5.9, average finish of 6.6 and a pass differential of 200.
With his ticket into the Sprint Cup postseason punched thanks to his two Sprint Cup victories, Harvick and his Rodney Childers-led crew can head to Kansas feeling less pressure and welcome the opportunity to race for a third win. The 30-time Sprint Cup race winner will look to score his eighth win since joining SHR, but the best place to start is with a “Freaky Fast” qualifying effort on Friday afternoon.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You have three poles and two top-five finishes in your last three races at Kansas. What has made you so successful at Kansas?
“I really don’t know. I think as you look at the racetrack even before they paved it or right there before the repave, things started going well. After the repave it seems to have gone really well, especially in qualifying for the last few times. It’s just something that fits my driving style. The cars have a lot of speed, and we’ve been able to capitalize on that.”
What is the importance of running well on the 1.5-mile racetracks?
“The 1.5-mile racetracks dominate the schedule, especially when you get into the Chase and end the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which is another 1.5-mile track. That’s a little bit different, but if you’re going to get to that point you’re going to have to be successful on that style of racetrack. Kansas, Charlotte, Chicago – those types of racetracks are really where you need to make hay, I guess you could say, and get the results to be successful.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine