Kevin Harvick History in the Making

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), looks to make it back-to-back NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins as the series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday’s 500k.

Harvick, the series points leader, scored his first Sprint Cup win of the season last Sunday in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the Bakersfield, California native has finished second or better in all three of the Sprint Cup points-paying events in 2015 and has led a series-high 258 laps with an average finish of 1.7.

Dating back to last season, Harvick has finished second or better in the last six points-paying events – three wins and three second-place finishes – while leading a series-high 578 laps. Harvick finished second at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth before going on to win the final two Sprint Cup races of 2014 at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Harvick and the No. 4 team started 2015 with a second-place finish in the 57th Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and a runner-up finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway before winning last Sunday at Las Vegas. The last time a Sprint Cup driver finished first or second for six consecutive events was 19 years ago, when Jeff Gordon accomplished the feat in 1996.

Three races into 2015, Harvick is atop the driver standings with 134 points, and he leads several other statistical categories – 129.7 driver rating, 1.7 average finish, plus71 pass differential, 143 fastest laps run, 258 laps led, 32.5 percentage of laps led, and 391.64 miles led. He ranks second in average running position at 5.384, and laps run in the top-15 with 771, or 97 percent. He ranks third in quality passes with 467, as well as average positions gained in the last 10 percent of a race at 6.3.

While the 2015 numbers are staggering, that is only part of the story for Harvick as the Sprint Cup Series heads to his best racetrack.

Harvick’s numbers at Phoenix, alone, are equally as impressive. He has a series-high six Sprint Cup wins there, including three in the last four races. Only Harvick and Jimmie Johnson have won three consecutive Sprint Cup races at Phoenix. Harvick won the November 2013 race and swept the 2014 races while Johnson won the November 2007 race and swept the 2008 races. Only five drivers have won consecutive Sprint Cup races at Phoenix and Harvick is the only driver to win consecutive races twice. Harvick swept both races in 2006 and again in 2014.

According to NASCAR loop data, he is the only driver to score a perfect 150.0 driver rating on two different occasions at Phoenix. Harvick scored his first perfect rating at Phoenix in November 2006, when he started second, led 252 of 312 laps and reached victory lane. He most recently scored a perfect rating at Phoenix in November 2014 when he started third, led 264 of 312 laps and also reached victory lane.

In addition to his series-best six wins at Phoenix, Harvick also ranks second in average running position at 9.8, driver rating at 106.2, and fastest laps run with 523. He ranks third in average green-flag speed at 216.232 mph, and fourth with 4,958 laps in the top-15, or 78.5 percent. He also ranks eighth in quality passes with 452.

The lone shortcoming for Harvick appears to be Friday afternoons at Phoenix as he is still in search of his first Sprint Cup pole there.

Outside of the Sprint Cup Series, Harvick has five NASCAR touring series wins, including four in the Camping World Truck Series and one in the Xfinity Series. The defending Sprint Cup champion won the Truck Series events at Phoenix in 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009. He scored his lone Xfinity win at Phoenix in 2006.

Saturday, Harvick will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series race before trying to make history by recording a fourth consecutive Sprint Cup win at the track in the 500k Sprint Cup Series event Sunday.


Speedway Digest Staff

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