KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has led or been near the front of the field in each of the first 16 Sprint Cup Series races of 2015 – a trend he hopes to continue this weekend in the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Harvick’s second-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 in February propelled the defending Sprint Cup champion toward the top of the point standings early in 2015. Including the Daytona 500, Harvick went on to assemble a series-record five straight top-two finishes to start the season, including back-to-back Sprint Cup wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.
Sixteen races into 2015, Harvick has scored a series-best 10 top-two finishes, 14 top-10s, and he sits atop the driver standings with 616 points. The No. 4 Chevrolet SS has led a series-high 1,225 laps with an average finish of 7.1. The 1,225 laps led are 517 more than the next-closest competitor – 708 by his SHR teammate Kurt Busch.
However, Harvick’s streak of 14 consecutive Sprint Cup events in which he led at least a lap ended last Sunday in the Save Mart 350k at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The only other race he didn’t lead a lap was the season-opening Daytona 500.
The last Sprint Cup driver to lead more than 1,225 laps through the first 16 Sprint Cup races of a season was Jeff Gordon, who led 1,276 laps though 16 races en route to winning his fourth Sprint Cup championship in 2001.
The staggering amount of laps led and the 14 consecutive races with laps led are impressive, but just as impressive for Harvick are numerous other statistics this season.
The Bakersfield, California native leads several other statistical categories: 125.0 driver rating, 11 top-five finishes, 26 bonus points, 764 fastest laps run, 19.9 percent of fastest laps run, 25.9 percent of laps led, 1,443.88 miles led, 4,377 laps in the top-15, 92.6 percent of laps in the top-15, average running position of 5.75, an average finish of 7.1 and a 67.9 percentage of quality passes.
While Harvick’s streak of leading Sprint Cup races ended at 14, he has a challenge ahead of him this weekend at Daytona International Speedway if he plans to start a new streak in Sunday night’s Coke Zero 400.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS:
What makes racing under the lights at Daytona in July so special?
“The July Fourth race at Daytona is special for a lot of reasons. I think, when you look at the night race at Daytona, it kind of marks the halfway point of the year and you know that you’re going to Daytona. It’s not the Daytona 500, but it’s still Daytona and everybody wants to win a race at Daytona no matter what it’s in or what it’s for. Daytona just has that special place in our sport and everybody wants to win there.”
What does it mean to you that NBC Sports is returning to NASCAR as a broadcast partner?
“Anytime you have a new partner come into the sport, it’s exciting. But when you have a new television partner and you see the enthusiasm and everything that comes with NBC and the excitement that they’ve built around our sport, it’s exciting for competitors and sponsors and everybody involved. We are excited to have NBC back and are looking forward to getting started in Daytona.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine