Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has earned his appearance in the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race under the lights at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the 16th straight season.
Harvick’s 16th consecutive All-Star appearance moves him into a tie for the seventh-most consecutive appearances with Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Labonte and Matt Kenseth. Mark Martin has the most consecutive All-Star appearances at 24, and Jeff Gordon is second after making his 22nd straight appearance prior to his retirement at the conclusion of last season. Rusty Wallace ranks third with 19. Tony Stewart will make his 18th straight appearance Saturday night, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. moves into a tie for fifth-most with Dale Jarrett at 17.
Harvick earned his first appearance in the All-Star Race in his 2001 rookie campaign, when he scored his first Sprint Cup win in only his third Sprint Cup start at Atlanta Motor Speedway that March. He started the race fifth, led 18 laps and beat runner-up Jeff Gordon by .006 of a second for one of the closest finishes in Sprint Cup history. While he qualified for his first All-Star Race in only his third Sprint Cup start, a brake issue in the All-Star Race forced him to retire after only 19 laps. He finished 21st.
The current Sprint Cup points leader won the 2007 All-Star Race when he started fourth, led 20 of 80 laps and beat runner-up Jimmie Johnson to the finish line by .141 of a second. The win made Harvick an automatic All-Star qualifier. However, he has qualified for the All-Star Race by virtue of a win every season since 2010 and also as the 2014 Sprint Cup champion.
Harvick is hoping to finish one position better than his back-to-back runner-up finishes in his last two All-Star Race appearances. He started third, led five laps and finished second to race-winner Jamie McMurray by .696 of a second in 2014. In 2015, he started 20th and finished second by .923 of a second to Denny Hamlin.
The Bakersfield, California native has met each of following three of the six qualifying criteria for Saturday night’s All-Star Race – Sprint Cup race winner in 2015 or 2016, previous All-Star Race winner, and Sprint Cup champion. He won three Sprint Cup races in 2015 and one in 2016, the 2007 Sprint All-Star Race and the 2014 Sprint Cup championship.
Harvick is also in the midst of an all-star season based on his 2016 statistics.
According to NASCAR Stats and Information, Harvick leads the Sprint Cup Series in each of the following categories: 418 points, 7.6 average finish, 6.136 average running position, 116.2 driver rating, 516 fastest laps run, 688 laps led, 17.6 percent of laps led, 860.73 miles led, 3,669 laps in the top-15, 94.0 percent of laps in the top-15, 3,880 laps run on the lead lap, 99.39 percent of laps on the lead lap. He also ranks second with nine top-10 finishes, five top-fives, 17 bonus points and 3,903 laps completed.
The 2007 Sprint All-Star Race winner has also seen success at every other type of Sprint Cup non-points events. He won the first Budweiser Duel at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in 2013 as a qualifying race for the Daytona 500, and the Sprint Unlimited exhibitions at Daytona in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
With no points on the line this weekend, Harvick and his Rodney Childers-led crew can head to Charlotte feeling less pressure, welcoming the opportunity to race for the $1 million top prize.