In Search of a Cowboy Hat for Saturday Night
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (April 5, 2016) – The most important number to Kevin Harvick heading into Saturday night’s Duck Commander 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 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) would love nothing more than to drive into victory lane Saturday night and be handed the traditional winner’s cowboy hat from speedway president Eddie Gossage.
Harvick has won Sprint Cup races at 19 of the 23 racetracks on the schedule. The four still unchecked on his list are Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, and Texas.
While the Bakersfield, California native 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.
The 2014 Sprint Cup champion has five wins and two poles at Texas in the Xfinity Series. He’s also scored nine top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and led 779 laps.
In the Truck Series, Harvick has one Texas victory, which came in 2011. He also has two top-five finishes and has led 64 laps in four starts.
In 26 Sprint Cup starts at Texas, Harvick has six top-five finishes, including his last three starts, and 14 top-10s with an average finish of 12.3.
While he is still chasing that elusive Sprint Cup win there, Harvick’s recent starts at Texas show he may be close to finally breaking through. He has finished in the top-10 in six of his last eight races there, including three straight finishes of third or better, and he’s led 109 laps in his last three starts.
Six races into 2016, Harvick sits atop the driver standings with 220 points and has again showed the speed and consistency it takes to reach victory lane. He scored his first win of the season at Phoenix International Raceway in his third start of the season. He has three top-five finishes, five top-10s and has led 485 laps. He has led at least one lap in every points-paying race, with the exception of the season-opening Daytona 500.
Harvick is hoping that, Saturday night, he can pick up his second Sprint Cup win of the season and a brand new cowboy hat and, most importantly, cross one more racetrack off his list of Sprint Cup victory lane appearances.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Do you have a favorite Texas memory?
“I think 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.”
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 gotten to victory lane. When you look at the Xfinity Series and 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) – victory lane is open after Sprint Cup races, 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.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine