Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), knows track position will be key to winning when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon for Sunday’s New Hampshire 301.
Winning Sunday at “The Magic Mile” is the only outcome that will help improve Harvick’s position when he pursues his goal of a second Sprint Cup championship.
The Bakersfield, California native earned the first requirement for entry into the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs in thrilling fashion when he scored a win in just the fourth race of the season at Phoenix International Raceway by .01 of a second over runner-up Carl Edwards. By finishing last weekend’s race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta 382 points ahead of the 31st-place driver in the standings, Harvick is now guaranteed to finish in the top-30 in driver points after race No. 26 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in September. A second win and attempting to qualify for the remaining eight regular-season Sprint Cup events would guarantee Harvick a spot in the Chase.
With one win and his top-30 points position secured, Harvick is now racing for wins and the accompanying bonus points for when the NASCAR playoffs kick off at Chicagoland Speedway in September.
The 2014 Sprint Cup champion knows how to win at New Hampshire, but he also knows that it is easier said than done.
Harvick scored his lone Sprint Cup win there from the pole position in September 2006, when he led 196 of 300 laps en route to victory lane.
In his most recent visit to the Granite State in September 2015, he started second and led a race-high 216 laps but ran out of fuel in the closing laps and finished 21st. In July 2015, he started 12th and was leading the race when he brought his No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road for a four-tire stop late in the race, while several other teams opted for a two-tire stop resulting in a third-place finish. He also had a chance to win in September 2014, when he started third, led a race-high 104 laps and finished third.
Harvick’s plan of attack for the weekend at New Hampshire is to attempt to qualify up front Friday to secure the track position needed to win Sunday as the three bonus points for winning are the only points worth counting for Harvick this weekend.