KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – 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 Busch Beer 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 nine top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and led 779 laps. He has an average starting position of 6.9 and finish of 7.8.
In the Truck Series, Harvick has one Texas victory, which came in 2011. He also has two top-fives and led 64 laps in four starts.
In 26 Sprint Cup starts at Texas, Harvick has five top-five finishes and 14 top-10s with an average finish of 12.2.
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 seven of his last nine races at Texas, including four straight dating back to November 2014, and led 111 laps in his last five starts.
Thirty-three races into this season, Harvick has been a model of consistency as he has 15 top-fives and 24 top-10s, and led 1,305 laps with a series-best average finish of 10.4.
While consistency has been key for Harvick throughout the season, his appearance in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup Round of 8 came anything but easily. The 2014 Sprint Cup champion has an average finish of 17.7 in this year’s Chase.
He raced his way out of the Round of 16 with a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway following a sub-par 20th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. He suffered a mechanical failure the following week at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and finished 37th.
In the Round of 12, Harvick finished 38th with another mechanical issue at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, but followed that with a win at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and seventh at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway to advance to the Round of 8.
The Bakersfield, California native kicked off the Round of 8 last Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with another 20th-place finish and needs to perform well at the next two races at Texas and Phoenix International Raceway in order to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson punched his ticket to the winner-take-all championship race at Homestead by virtue of his win at Martinsville last weekend. Harvick trails fourth-place driver Kyle Busch by 16 points in the standings for the final transfer position to the Championship 4 with two races remaining. His goals this weekend at Texas are to at least better his sixth-place position in the point standings or, ideally, automatically punch his ticket to the Championship 4 with a win that would put him one step closer to adding another Sprint Cup title to the one he won in 2014.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are the challenges of racing at Texas?
“I would say the biggest challenge of racing at Texas is just navigating the bumps and the worn-out asphalt while still trying to have a car that’s fast.”
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 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.”
How has the drama and excitement in the 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. We’ve been fortunate to win a couple of races, but it seems like 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 weeks.”
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