The Elusive Victory Lane
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Nov. 5, 2015) – The most important number to Kevin Harvick heading into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth is his number of trips to victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series at the 1.5-mile oval – zero.
The driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is still looking for his first Sprint Cup win at Texas even though 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.
In 25 Sprint Cup starts at Texas, Harvick has five top-five finishes and 13 top-10s with an average finish of 12.7.
While he is still chasing that elusive Sprint Cup win at Texas, Harvick’s recent starts there show he may be close to finally breaking through. He has finished in the top-10 in five of his last seven races at Texas, including back-to-back runner-up finishes, and led 99 laps in his last three starts.
Thirty-three races into this season, Harvick has been a model of consistency as he has 20 top-five finishes, and he’s also led a series-high 2,094 laps with an average finish of 9.2.
The reigning Sprint Cup champion leads several other statistical categories: 118.1 driver rating, 45 bonus points, 1,303 fastest laps run, 33.9 percent of fastest laps run, 21.8 percent of laps led, 2,523.11 miles led, 8,721 laps in the top-15 and average running position of 7.477.
Harvick is the first driver to lead 2,000 laps in consecutive seasons since Jeff Gordon in 1995 and 1996. The last three drivers to lead more than 2,000 laps in a single season have all gone on to win the Sprint Cup championship. Jeff Gordon led 2,320 laps in 2001, Jimmie Johnson led 2,238 laps in 2009, and Harvick led 2,137 laps in 2014.
While consistency has been key for Harvick throughout the season, his appearance in the Eliminator Round came anything but easily. The defending series champion raced his way from the Challenger Round to the Contender Round with a dominant performance in a “must-win” situation at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. He fought off elimination by leading 355 of 400 laps at Dover en route to scoring his first Chase win of the season.
In the Contender Round, Harvick finished second at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, 16th at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and 15th at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway to advance to the Eliminator Round.
Jeff Gordon punched his ticket to the Championship race at Homestead by virtue of his win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last weekend. Harvick finished eighth at Martinsville and holds a seven point cushion over fifth-place driver Carl Edwards in the standings. His goals this weekend at Texas are to at least better his fourth-place position in the point standings or, better yet, punch his ticket to defend his 2014 Sprint Cup championship with a win that would automatically advance him to the Championship Round in Homestead.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How is the drama and excitement of this year’s Chase compared to what it was last year?
“I don’t really get into drama and excitement. For me, it’s really about being intense in our own little bubble. I know, for us, it seems like there is more to navigate than there was last year just for the fact that we’ve had so many things go wrong up to this point. I think we’ve had one that has gone right and that was at Dover, so every other week we’ve had to navigate something or work through something to get the best finish we can. Hopefully we can clean all those things up and do a little better over the final couple of weeks.”
What do you need to have to be best at the end of the race at Texas?
“I’d say at Texas you need to have a well-balanced car. It’s a very fast racetrack, but I think as you look at the bumps and the way that the asphalt has worn out, cars drive pretty tough and have become more difficult to drive as you get later in the run. So you need to have a well-balanced racecar to try to make as much speed as possible.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine