Avondale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) – Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin
Harvick is hoping his streak of top-twos will reach seven this weekend at
Phoenix International Raceway, a track where he has won the last three times.
A streak dating back to last season, Harvick has finished either first or
second in six straight Sprint Cup races. It began the first weekend in
November when he was runner-up to Jimmie Johnson at Texas. Harvick then won
the last two races of the season — Phoenix and Homestead — to claim his
first championship in NASCAR’s premier series.
Harvick finished second to Joey Logano in the Feb. 22 season-opening Daytona
500 and then runner-up to Johnson in the March 1 race at Atlanta before
winning at Las Vegas this past Sunday.
Harvick, the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, became the
first competitor in the series to finish in the top-two in six consecutive
races since Jeff Gordon last accomplished the feat in 1996.
“I think that just comes down to the guys on my race team and everybody at
Stewart-Haas Racing for just bringing really good cars to the racetrack, and
in particular the No. 4 team, in being able to capitalize and manage the
weekends and races and keep the cars together and do all the things that it
takes to just make laps and keep yourself in contention,” Harvick said. “Just
really proud of everybody on my team for everything that they’ve done, and
hopefully we can keep it rolling. We’ll try to ride the wave as long as we
Harvick is the current leader in the Sprint Cup point standings. He holds a
nine-point advantage over second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Phoenix has been Harvick’s best racetrack over the years. His six Sprint Cup
race wins at this flat, one-mile track is more than any other competitor. On
Sunday, he will attempt to become the first driver to win four races in a row
here. Johnson won three straight at Phoenix from 2007-08.
Since this track was repaved and reconfigured in 2011, Harvick has been the
most dominant driver here. He led 224 laps in the spring race and 264 laps in
the fall event at Phoenix last year, en route to a season-sweep.
“Honestly, the reconfiguration has definitely worked out better for us than I
thought it would because, when they first did it, I thought we had really
figured out what we needed to do on the old surface and then they changed the
surface,” he said. “We kind of picked right up and almost went better than it
did on the old surface with the new surface.
“It’s just kind of one of those things where you figured out a couple of
little things that help you, and I know the feeling that I want my car. I know
what I want it to feel like in practice and in the race. If we can achieve
that, then usually we are competitive. It’s just interesting how you find
those places where you know what you want to feel and it just works.”
When Harvick won at Phoenix one year ago, it came in just his second start
with Stewart-Haas Racing. He went on to score four more victories during his
Sprint Cup championship season.
“I think that was big for us, for sure,” Harvick said of his win in the spring
race at Phoenix in 2014. “I think as you look back at that particular moment,
it was one of those things where getting that first win out of the way was a
big deal. It’s exciting to be able to know that we knocked the first one out
and then knocked several out in the championship after that, so that is pretty
In Friday’s lone practice session, Harvick turned in the fourth fastest lap at
138.132 mph. Logano topped the speed charts at 138.771 mph.
Forty-five teams are on the entry list for the CampingWorld.com 500. Kurt
Busch, who is Harvick’s teammate at SHR, returns to racing after NASCAR lifted
his indefinite suspension on Wednesday.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, March 15. Race: CampingWorld.com 500.
Site: Phoenix International Raceway. Track: 1-mile oval. Start time: 3:30 p.m.
ET. Laps: 312. Miles: 312 (500 kilometers). 2014 Winner: Kevin Harvick.
Television: FOX. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.