Kevin Harvick Going for Three

Kevin Harvick is going for his third consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win this weekend as the series heads to ISM Raceway near Phoenix for Sunday afternoon’s TicketGuardian 500k.

 

The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is off to a “Freaky Fast” start to the 2018 season, having scored back-to-back Cup Series wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He’s been so fast that he has led more than 49 percent of the total laps run in regular-season points-paying events thus far.

 

Last weekend at Las Vegas, Harvick scored a perfect 150.0 driver rating, starting second, leading 214 of 267 laps and finishing 2.906 seconds ahead of runner-up Kyle Busch.

 

The last Cup Series driver to win three consecutive races was Joey Logano, who won three October races in a row during the 2015 NASCAR playoffs at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and Talladega (Ala.) Speedway.

 

While Harvick has racked up 39 wins in his Cup Series career, he has never won three Cup Series races consecutively.

 

Logano is one of only three active Cup Series drivers to have ever accomplished the feat. The others are Kyle Busch, who won at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July 2015, and Jimmie Johnson, who has done it twice. Johnson’s first three-race streak came at Charlotte, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Atlanta in 2004. Johnson also has the longest win streak among active drivers when he won four in a row at Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Phoenix in 2007.

 

If history is any indication, ISM Raceway could very well be the place Harvick joins that elite list.

 

Harvick’s career numbers at Phoenix feature a series-high eight NASCAR Cup Series wins, including five in his last nine outings. He became the only Cup Series driver to win four consecutive races at the track when he won the November 2013 race, swept the 2014 races and won again in March 2015. Only five drivers have won consecutive Cup Series races at Phoenix and Harvick is the only one to win consecutive races twice. He swept both races in 2006 to go with his back-to-back wins in 2014. His most recent Phoenix win was last March.

 

According to NASCAR loop data, Harvick is the only driver to score a perfect 150.0 driver rating on three different occasions at Phoenix. Harvick scored his first perfect rating at the mile oval in November 2006, when he started second and led 252 of 312 laps on his way to victory lane. He accomplished the feat a second time in winning the November 2014 race. His third perfect score came in March 2015, when he won the pole, led 224 of 312 laps and beat Jamie McMurray to the finish line by 1.153 seconds.

 

In addition to his series-high eight wins in NASCAR’s top series, the 2014 Cup Series champion has four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins at Phoenix and one in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His Truck Series wins came in 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009. His lone Xfinity win came in 2006.

 

A win this weekend would continue the No. 4 team’s blistering start to the season. It currently sits atop the point standings with a three-point advantage over Joey Logano after its back-to-back wins, its 395 laps led and 13 playoff points accumulated for race and stage wins through the first three races.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. talked on pit road after Las Vegas about how you looked like did in 2014, and Truex said, “There goes Kevin Harvick off in his own ZIP code again.” Does it really feel that way, or has so much changed in that time, is it difficult to compare?

 

“For me, there were a lot of questions coming into the weekend. I think Atlanta is its own beast, but I think we answered a lot of those questions for ourselves. And now it’s about navigating the rest of it, and how do you push yourself forward, what do you need to work on, even though things are going good. Sometimes you have to trick yourself and everybody else into thinking, ‘OK, well, everything is going good.’ Well, I can promise you that the 78, the 18, the 2, the 22, everybody is going to work, and they’re going to get better. I mean, we did that last year. We’ve been in this position before, and you have to keep pushing forward to try to keep your advantage of things that are working well for you, but you also have to find out what your weaknesses are. This weekend, we’re going to a flat track, and we didn’t run well there in the spring. We ran better in the fall but not like we expect to run. So that’s an important playoff race. So we have to figure out how to motivate everybody to keep pushing forward, to not sit idle in the things that we’re doing, and become complacent in the things that you’re doing because it’s good enough right now but it won’t be when you get to summertime.”

 

Does your car feel that much better than it did near the end of last year?

 

“You’ve got to remember, at the end of last year, our car was as competitive as anybody. We drove to victory lane there at Texas and led the most laps and won both stages and just had some things not work out for us at Charlotte. So, the mile-and-a-half stuff has been on point since we got to Chicago last year. I think as you have the whole winter to step back, take a deep breath and work on some things, I think as you look at everything that’s changed, it’s obviously not hurt us as much as it hurt some other people. There’s still a lot of racing left to go. But it’s good to have momentum. It’s good to have things going early. It’s good to score playoff points because we saw how important they were last year for the 78, and you want to, when things are going good, you need to hammer it home. You need to capitalize on it. You need to win stages because there will be a point where you go through that lull where somebody else is hot, and you hope that your hot streak is longer than theirs so you can score more points and put yourself in a better position for the playoff points than anybody else.”

 

You just scored your 100th win in NASCAR’s top three series and your next Cup Series win will be your 40th, tying you with Mark Martin for 18th on the all-time list. What do those accomplishments mean to you?

 

“I think any place you get on the list at this particular point, for me, I just kind of laugh, just because of the fact that I don’t think you ever really – I never really thought that I would actually – get to the point of putting yourself beside Mark Martin and some of the guys who are on that part of the list. I think as you look at the last five years and you look at the wins and the championship and the way that things have gone, it’s really kind of rejuvenated everything that I’ve done and the way I feel about coming to the racetrack. You feel obligated to be a part of it during the week and try to put in the maximum amount of effort because (crew chief) Rodney (Childers) and (race engineer) Dax (Gerringer) and the engineers and everybody who’s working at the shop, they’re digging, and they’re not worried about where you’re at on the list. That, for me, is a good thing because it’s really week-to-week. They’ll go home and we probably won’t ever talk about what we did at Vegas until we come back to Vegas. It’s all about Phoenix this week and what we’re going to do and what we did wrong and what we did right at the fall race and where we’re at with the cars at this particular point and what do we need to work on and how do we need to work on things. Then we’ll fly home and have a good time and talk about how the weekend went. There are always things you can make better. There’s really no time to sit and reminisce about where you’re at on a list because, when things are like this, you want to capitalize on them and you want to capitalize on your cars and your people and your enthusiasm and the momentum and all the things that come with that. So, you’re almost scared to even really step back and say, we did this or we did that, and your name is on the list here. It’s just, ‘How do we keep doing this?’,And, ‘Let’s just keep pushing things forward and try not to stumble along the way and screw up what’s going on.’ To me, it feels a lot like 2014, except now you’ve got a team with five years of experience, and that’s pretty scary.”

ISM Raceway Car – Chassis No. 4-021:
 

Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-021 Sunday in the TicketGuardian 500k at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. Built new in 2018, Chassis No. 4-021 will make its debut this weekend.

 

ISM Raceway Notes of Interest:
 

Freaky Fast Since 2014: Harvick is in his 18th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and his fifth at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm. Since joining forces, Harvick and Childers combined to produce 16 victories, 15 poles, 70 top-five finishes and 100 top-10s; led 7,060 laps; won the 2014 Cup Series title; finished runner-up in 2015 to champion Kyle Busch, eighth in 2016 and third in 2017. The team qualified for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway three of the last four seasons.

 

Points Position: Harvick arrives at Phoenix ranked first in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with 135 points after back-to-back wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

 

Playoff Qualifier: Harvick qualified for the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his back-to-back wins at Atlanta and Las Vegas. He will enter the playoffs with a minimum of 13 playoff points. He gained five playoff points for each of his two wins and picked up three additional points for one stage win at Atlanta and two at Las Vegas.

 

100 and Counting: Harvick scored his 100th career win in NASCAR’s top three series when he won Sunday’s Cup Series race at Las Vegas. He has 39 Cup Series wins, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Camping World Truck Series. Harvick and Childers also have 100 top-10s since they joined forces in 2014.

 

Harvick in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix: Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500k will mark Harvick’s 31st career NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix. Harvick has a series-high eight wins, 14 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s at the mile oval. The 42-year-old driver has led 1,484 laps, has an average starting position of 15.8, an average finish of 9.7, and has completed 99.8 percent (9,341 of 9,363) of the laps he’s contested there.

 

Topping the All-Time NASCAR Cup Series Win List at Phoenix: Harvick’s series-high eight career NASCAR Cup Series wins at Phoenix tops a list that shows Jimmie Johnson next-best with four career wins, followed by Davey Allison, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman with two wins each.

 

Winner of Six of the Last 11 at Phoenix: Harvick has won six of the last 11 NASCAR Cup Series races at Phoenix and five of the last nine. He is the only driver to win four in a row. He won the November 2013 race, swept the 2014 races and won in March 2015 before ending his streak with a runner-up finish in November 2015. Johnson is the only other driver with a three-race streak at Phoenix when he won the November 2007 race and swept the 2008 races. Only five drivers have won consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races at Phoenix and Harvick is the only driver to win consecutive races twice. Harvick also swept both races in 2006. He has led 1,064 laps in his last eight races at Phoenix, however he has not led a lap in his last three starts at the mile oval.

 

Perfection at Phoenix: Harvick has scored a perfect 150.0 driver rating at Phoenix on three occasions. His first was in November 2006, when he started second, led 252 of 312 laps and reached victory lane. His second was in his November 2014 win, when he started third and led 264 of 312 laps. His third came in his March 2015 win, when he started first and led 224 of 312 laps.

 

All-Time Wins List: Harvick’s win Sunday at Las Vegas moved him into a three-way tie with Matt Kenseth and Tim Flock for 19th on the all-time list with 39 career Cup Series wins. Among active drivers, Harvick ranks third behind leader Johnson’s 83 career wins and Kyle Busch’s 43.

 

SHR at ISM Raceway: In 54 overall starts at ISM Raceway, SHR-prepared cars have earned five wins (Ryan Newman in April 2010 and Harvick in March 2014, November 2014, March 2015 and March 2016), 16 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s, one pole (Harvick in March 2015), have been atop the leaderboard for 1,309 laps, and have completed 97.6 percent of the laps contested (16,296 of 16,694).

 

Career NASCAR Cup Series Totals: Harvick has 39 wins, 170 top-five finishes, 309 top-10s and 21 poles in 613 career NASCAR Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500k at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.

 

Jimmy John’s: Jimmy John’s, maker of gourmet sandwiches with “freaky fast” delivery since 1983, is the primary sponsor of the No. 4 Ford Fusion for 16 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2016, highlighted by the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

New Addition: Kevin and DeLana Harvick welcomed their second child, Piper Grace Harvick, on Dec. 28, 2017.

 

Harvick’s Happy Hours on SiriusXM Radio: Harvick is in his second year as the co-host ofHappy Hours on SiriusXM Radio channel 90. The show debuted March 28, 2017 and airs on Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. ET, featuring Harvick’s distinctive perspective on the sport and life outside the track. Harvick and co-host Matt Yocum take calls from listeners and give NASCAR fans a unique view on the driver’s life and interests when he is away from the racecar.

 

Harvick the Broadcaster: Harvick will once again appear in the television booth for FOX at select Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series races in 2018. He is set to make his broadcast debut in the Xfinity race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway on April 20 and will join the all-driver broadcast on April 28 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. He is also slated to broadcast NASCAR Truck Series races at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on July 12, Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on July 18 and Talladega on Oct. 13.

 

Homecoming Race: Harvick announced on the Feb. 6 edition of his SiriusXM Radio show Happy Hours that he is scheduled to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West opener on Thursday, March 15 at Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield, California. Harvick, a Bakersfield native, will field the No. 4 Ford for Jefferson Pitts Racing with sponsorship from FIELDS. This will marks Harvick’s first-ever appearance at the racetrack in his hometown, since he grew up racing at the now-closed Mesa Marin Raceway. Harvick has won his last two appearances in the West Series – 2007 at Iowa Speedway and 2017 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

TSC PR/Photo Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

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