KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has been leading the way nearly the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He leads most statistical categories, but not the most important category – wins.
The points leader would like to score his second Sprint Cup win Sunday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in the Cheez-It 355k at The Glen. He scored his first of the year in the season’s fourth race at Phoenix International Raceway.
The Bakersfield, California native is no stranger to victory lane at Watkins Glen. He scored a Sprint Cup victory there in 2006, when he started seventh and led 28 of 90 laps and beat current SHR teammate Tony Stewart to the finish line by 0.892 of a second.
In 2015, Harvick started fourth, led 29 laps and appeared to have the race won with a sizable lead on the final lap. But he ran out of fuel in the final turn and coasted to a third-place finish behind race winner Joey Logano and runner-up Kyle Busch.
Harvick also visited victory lane in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Watkins Glen in August 2007. He started 11th and turned in a dominant performance after quickly racing his way to the front, leading 49 of 82 laps and beating runner-up Jeff Burton by 3.529 seconds.
In the only other road-course race of the season, Harvick started 26th, led three laps and finished sixth in June at the 1.99-mile Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
Harvick clinched a top-30 points position with his ninth-place finish July 9 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. He needs an additional win to clinch his spot in the 2016 Chase field after race No. 26 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Twenty-one races into 2016, Harvick has scored a series-best 17 top-10s and sits atop the driver standings with 709 points.
He leads several other statistical categories: 109.9 driver rating, 8.3 average finish, 693 fastest laps run, 14.5 percent of fastest laps run, 5,233 laps in the top-15, 90.2 percent of laps in the top-15, and average running position of 8.286.
Even though Harvick and the No. 4 team are virtually a lock to make the Chase field, scoring a second Sprint Cup win of the season and gaining bonus points for the start of the Chase is now their top priority through the final five regular-season races starting this weekend at Watkins Glen.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS:
What is the key to having a good race at Watkins Glen International?
“Watkins Glen is really fast, so the biggest thing there is to get your car good under braking so you can make passes during the race. Usually, where you can gain the most time is in the braking zones.”
Are the road courses still odd-ball races, or do they seem like just another race now?
“They are pretty much just another race now. I think everybody knows that you are going to a road course and you’ve got a lot of different aspects from a driver’s standpoint and the team standpoint that you have to pay attention to.”
What sections or turns are the most challenging at Watkins Glen International?
“It just depends on how your car is handling. I think they can all present problems. As the race goes on, turn one becomes more of an issue because it’s downhill and the brakes start to get worn out. The wheel hop becomes more prevalent as the race goes on. That is the one you’ve got to watch for me during the race, but they all present different challenges.”
How does Watkins Glen International differ from Sonoma Raceway?
“There is a lot of speed difference. At Watkins Glen, you go from turn one, up through the esses and into the inner loop and end up running about 170 to 180 miles per hour down the backstretch. At Sonoma, you’re lucky to get above 100 miles per hour, so speed is definitely the biggest difference.”
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