KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is looking to end his streak of four consecutive second-place finishes at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn by scoring his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season in Sunday’s Michigan 400.
Harvick’s streak of four consecutive second-place finishes at Michigan dates back to June 2013, when he was runner-up to Greg Biffle by 2.989 seconds. In August 2013, Harvick finished 1.018 seconds behind Joey Logano. In 2014, he followed Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon across the finish line in the June and August races, respectively. Four races, four second-place finishes to four different drivers.
Harvick also has finished second in the last two Sprint Cup races this season – at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. He started sixth at Dover and led 91 laps but was unable to catch Johnson on a green-white-checkered restart. Last weekend at Pocono, Harvick started fifth and led 39 laps but ran out of time in his attempt to chase down race-winner Martin Truex Jr.
Fourteen races into 2015, Harvick has scored 10 top-two finishes. That’s eight second-place finishes, plus wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, and he sits atop the driver standings with 559 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 1,162 laps with an average finish of 5.8. His 1,162 laps led are 503 laps more than the next-closest competitor – 659 by his SHR teammate Kurt Busch.
The Bakersfield, California native leads several other statistical categories: 126.7 driver rating, 10 top-five finishes, 13 top-10s, 24 bonus points, 738 fastest laps run, 20.1 percent of fastest laps run, 25.9 percent of laps led, 1,317.88 miles led, 4,171 laps in the top-15, 93.1 percent of laps in the top-15, average running position of 5.28 and an average finish of 5.8.
The reigning Sprint Cup champion has led at least one lap in 13 straight Sprint Cup points events in 2015. The only race he hasn’t led was the season-opening Daytona 500.
While the No. 4 team already has two Sprint Cup wins, is running at the front every weekend, leading in most statistical categories and is a virtual lock to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, the team is still trying to spend more time in victory lane.
This Sunday at Michigan, Harvick and the No. 4 team will continue their quest for wins that will generate maximum bonus points for when the Chase officially kicks off at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet in September.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Do you enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway?
“I think we’ve finished second there the last four times. That second-place thing we have going on is a good thing and a bad thing. I learned a long time ago that sometimes those things happen, so it’s better to be on a second-place streak than a 10th-place streak. The good thing about the racetrack is that it has definitely aged and the groove has spread out over the last couple of races, so you’ve had a lot more options than you did a few years ago when they repaved it. Every time we go back there, it gets a little more racey. I think this particular rules package is going to be interesting this time because the draft has always been pretty effective there. When we go back this time, there should be lots of room to race and you’ll see lots of speed. It’ll be interesting to see how qualifying goes and whether you need to utilize the draft. Then the races, as you go through the restarts and traffic and different things, we’ll have to see how it all goes, but it should be interesting.”
You’ve had eight second-place finishes this season. Does that get frustrating, or do you appreciate the consistent speed?
“In our situation, we are fortunate to be running the way we are, but sometimes things don’t go exactly your way. Like this past weekend – we were coming to pit road, downshifting and all but on pit road and the caution comes out and we go from leading the race to 12th. It’s just been a lot of little circumstances, but the good part is the cars are running fast. I think, as we rebound and recover from certain situations like that and finishing second, that’s a good thing. A lot of times situations like that turn into eighth- to 10th-place finishes. The guys are doing a great job and continuing to push forward. Everybody has got that good frustration, I guess you could call it, just from the fact that everybody has that drive and will to win. Sometimes you go through cycles where things aren’t going the way you want them to as far as circumstances but, hopefully, they cycle around just like they did last year and everything comes together in the last 10 weeks.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine