Kevin Harvick Showdown In Texas

 Kevin Harvick is headed to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for this Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 ready for a showdown.


The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is off to one of the best starts of his Cup Series career, but that fresh start actually began with Harvick’s Cup Series win at Texas Motor Speedway in November 2017. In the nine Cup Series races since the series last visited the Lone Star State, Harvick has scored a series-best four wins and 471 laps led, as well as seven top-five finishes. In fact, only Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Busch have scored more than Harvick’s 338 points over that span.


Last November, Harvick started third, led 38 laps and took the lead with only 10 laps remaining to secure his first Cup Series victory at Texas by 1.580 seconds over Truex.


The native of Bakersfield, California, has three Cup Series wins early in the 2018 Cup Series campaign, scored in back-to-back-to-back fashion at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway near Phoenix, both over runner-up Kyle Busch, and Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Brad Keselowski was the runner-up.


While Harvick and the No. 4 team have visited victory lane a series-best three times in six 2018 events, the team ranks seventh in the Cup Series standings, 45 points behind leader Kyle Busch and 37 points behind second-place Truex.


What should make this weekend at Texas truly a showdown among Harvick, Truex and Busch is their history over the last 10 races on 1.5-mile racetracks. Truex ranks first with six wins, 940 laps led, 10 top-five finishes, 492 points and a 2.0 average finish over that span, while Harvick ranks second with three wins, 733 laps led, 462 points, seven top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and a 4.1 average finish. Busch ranks third with 387 points, 522 laps led, while scoring five top-five finishes, seven top-10s and three poles.


Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion, continues to put together strong performances at Texas. He has scored five top-five finishes in his last seven Cup Series starts there. He has also started in the top-five in seven of the last eight races at Texas, including from the pole in April 2017.


Harvick will also see added track time this weekend as he runs the No. 98 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang Saturday afternoon in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He swept his only double-duty attempt so far in 2018, capturing his 98th and 99th career wins in NASCAR’s top-three series with wins in the Xfinity and Cup Series at Atlanta in February.


While Harvick leads the Cup Series with three wins and 11 playoff points through the first six races, he still would love nothing more than to win the race and both stages to add some space in the playoff standings over second-ranked Truex and close the points gap to leader Busch.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What makes Texas such a unique racetrack since the repave?

“Texas has become a very unique racetrack. I know we have a different left-side tire that we’ll have to get used to this weekend. When they repaved the racetrack, they made the two ends of the racetrack so different – turns one and two have become very challenging, especially in the Cup Series car because of how flat it is. Really, the hardest thing about turns one and two at Texas is that it’s so wide when you get to the entry that you have a hard time picking up the bottom of the corner. When you enter the corner, you don’t use the entire racetrack anymore because they put the bottom of the corner so far down the racetrack. It’s very unique and different. You have to make your car turn well and not be too loose into the corner of turn one, and it has to turn well in the middle of the corner in order to carry speed off, otherwise you’re just lugging up off the corner. As you get to turns three and four, it’s about letting off the throttle halfway and hope you can put it right back down. There are already a few bumps in the corner that, when you’re trying to maintain speed, it either hits the splitter or bounces a little bit. That end of the racetrack has always been very fast through turns three and four but, once the repave came, it’s become really fast every lap.”


What are the most challenging parts of the Texas Motor Speedway racetrack?

“Turns three and four have always been fast, but now they’re what I’d call scary fast because of the small amount of time you’re out of the throttle. If you look at turns one and two, it’s become a lot different than what it used to be just because it’s so much flatter and wider. It’s become a very unique corner that we don’t experience a lot. When you saw SMI (Speedway Motorsports, Inc.) take the two different ends at Kentucky and made turns one and two a lot different than three and four, they kept three and four flat and you have a hard time getting into the corner because you get loose as the track gets flat. Turns one and two at Texas actually remind me of turns one and two at Kentucky – what they used to be – and they left the high-banked fast part in turns three and four.”

Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-010 in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Built new in 2017, Chassis No. 4-010 made its NASCAR Cup Series debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Brickyard 400, when Harvick started second and finished sixth.​


Texas Motor Speedway Notes of Interest:
· Earning It with Three Wins: Kevin Harvick scored consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway near Phoenix the second, third and fourth weekends of the season.


· Freaky Fast Qualifier: Harvick has reached the final round of qualifying at every race in 2018. He qualified sixth at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, third at Atlanta, second at Las Vegas and 10th at both Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Harvick also set the Fontana track record with a lap of 38.147 seconds at 188.744 mph in the first round of qualifying. He started eighth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway after qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather.


· 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 17 victories, 15 poles, 72 top-five finishes and 102 top-10s; led 7,098 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 Texas ranked seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with 212 points after his fifth-place finish at Martinsville.


· Playoff Qualifier: Harvick qualified for the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his wins at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix. He will enter the playoffs with a minimum of 11 playoff points. He gained five playoff points each for race wins at Atlanta and Phoenix and an additional point for his stage win at Atlanta.


· 101 and Counting: Harvick scored his 100th career win in NASCAR’s top three series when he won the Cup Series race at Las Vegas and his 101st at Phoenix the following week. He has 40 Cup Series wins, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Camping World Truck Series. Harvick and Childers also have 102 top-10s since they joined forces in 2014. Only four drivers in NASCAR history have passed 100 wins in NASCAR’s top three series: Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Busch and Harvick.


· Missing From The Trophy Case: Harvick has reached victory lane at 21 of the 23 stops on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit after his win at Texas Motor Speedway in November. The two tracks where he has yet to visit victory lane in the Cup Series are Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.


· Harvick in the NASCAR Cup Series at Texas: The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 will mark Harvick’s 31st career NASCAR Cup Series start at Texas. He has one win, one pole, eight top-five finishes and 18 top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval. The 42-year-old driver has led 231 laps, has an average starting position of 16.8, an average finish of 11.4, and has completed 96.7 percent (9,677 of 10,003) of the laps he’s contested there.Harvick won in November 2017 at Texas and his lone pole in April with a lap of 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph in the final round of qualifying.


· Harvick in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Texas: Harvick has made 20 starts in the Xfinity Series at Texas. He has five wins (March 2001, and November 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2012), two poles (April 2008 and 2014), 11 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s. He has led 779 laps, has an average starting position of 7.4, an average finish of 7.3, and has completed 99.3 percent (3,900 of 3,927) of the laps he’s contested there.


· Harvick in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Texas: Harvick has made four starts in the Truck Series at Texas. He has one win (November 2011), two top-five finishes and two top-10s. He has led 64 laps, has an average starting position of 16.8, an average finish of 12.2, and has completed 92.6 percent (573 of 619) of the laps he’s contested there.


· All-Time Wins List: Harvick’s win at Phoenix moved him into a tie with Mark Martin for 18th on the all-time list with 40 career Cup Series wins. Among active drivers, Harvick ranks third behind leader Jimmie Johnson’s 83 career wins and Busch’s 43.


· SHR at Texas: In 54 overall starts at Texas, SHR-prepared cars have earned two wins (Tony Stewart in November 2011 and Harvick in November 2017), eight top-five finishes and 19 top-10s, five poles (Tony Stewart in April 2010 and April 2014, Kurt Busch in April 2015 and November 2017, and Harvick in April 2017), have been atop the leaderboard for 650 laps, and have completed 95.9 percent of the laps contested (17,191 of 17,926).


· Career NASCAR Cup Series Totals: Harvick has 40 wins, 172 top-five finishes, 311 top-10s and 21 poles in 616 career NASCAR Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.


· 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 July 12, Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, July 18 and Talladega Oct. 13.


· Homecoming Race: Harvick finished fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West opener at Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield, California. Harvick, a Bakersfield native, raced the No. 4 Ford for Jefferson Pitts Racing with sponsorship from FIELDS. It was Harvick’s first-ever appearance at the racetrack in his hometown. He grew up racing at the now-closed Mesa Marin Raceway. He won the pole and led 132 laps before late-race contact with race-winner Derek Kraus dropped the No. 4 Ford back to the ninth position. He recovered five positions after the late race restart to cross the finish line in fourth-place.

TSC PR/Photo Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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