Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cup Champ Kevin Harvick going for third Sprint Unlimited victory

Kevin Harvick is 10/1 co-favorite to win his third Sprint Unlimited
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Feb. 10, 2015) – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, enters Budweiser Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for the first time as the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

As he heads to Daytona, Harvick will begin the defense of his title in earnest at the 2.5-mile superspeedway while also hoping to accomplish a feat not duplicated since 2007, which also happens to be the same year Harvick scored his first and only victory in the Daytona 500. Harvick wants to win three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points-paying races in a row.

Last season, the Bakersfield, California native won the final two Sprint Cup races – at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway – en route to capturing his first Sprint Cup championship in his inaugural season with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

As Harvick enters his 15th Sprint Cup season and his second at SHR with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm, he is looking to extend that winning streak from two races to three races by winning his second Daytona 500.

Harvick’s attempt to extend that winning streak comes at a racetrack where he’s seen considerable success.

He won the famed Harley J. Earl trophy in 2007 when he beat Mark Martin to the Daytona 500 finish line by 0.020 of a second on the final green-white-checkered restart. It was the closest Daytona 500 finish since the start of computer scoring in 2003.

Harvick also has three wins in the Sprint Unlimited – 2009, 2010 and 2013 – tying him for second-most with owner and teammate Tony Stewart and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett.

In the 2009 Unlimited, Harvick survived an incident-filled race that saw a record eight caution periods and less than half the starting field make it to the checkered flag.

The following year, he joined Neil Bonnett, Ken Schrader and Stewart as the fourth driver in event history to win consecutive races, driving a backup car he never got to practice to pass Greg Biffle with two laps remaining in a green-white-checkered finish. He was declared the winner when a multicar incident ended the race under caution.

Then, in 2013, Harvick led 40 of 75 laps, dominating the second and third segments en route to his third Unlimited victory in five years.

If Harvick can make it three straight wins by winning the season-opening Daytona 500 Feb. 22 at “The World Center of Racing,” the No. 4 team would put itself in prime position to secure its 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup berth and defend its series title.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:

After a perfect ending to last season, would you classify the entire campaign as perfect? What areas do you need to improve on?

“Well, you always have to improve. The day that you think you’re good enough is the day you’re not going to stay as competitive as you want to be. We have to go through every piece of our team and our cars, myself and Rodney. You have to figure out how to get better. Everybody else right now is trying to get what we have, and that’s that championship trophy. As we go through the off‑season, I think we’ve made a lot of small adjustments on a lot of things as a company, as people. That’s what we have to do to continue forward. For me, it’s always just how can I be a better part of the team, how can I take the information and pieces that he has. For me, this offseason was important. We transitioned to the Charlotte area with our home. For me, the main focus this offseason was to get everything in order at home so you could be done with it, have it in place, and be able to go to Daytona and focus on what my team needs from me. You have to be in a position to be able to give that time up in order to fix a problem or to help with a situation. So that’s really been my focus this offseason, to make sure that physically I was where I needed to be to start the season, and from a personal standpoint make sure everything at home was as organized as possible to start the season.”

After winning the final two races of last season, how much added pressure is there? Is there less pressure now?
“There’s way less pressure. Coming into this situation last year I was pretty nervous. It may not have shown through, but there are so many questions in your head about a very comfortable situation. I didn’t want to be comfortable. I wanted to experience what we experienced last year. Sometimes you have to make some bold or hard decisions in order to make things like this happen. I’m as comfortable as I’ve ever been. I feel like we’re better prepared than we were going into the season just for the fact that we have racecars, haulers and people. Everybody has been together except for one guy. They changed some things up in the shop, putting the No. 4 and No. 14 teams together to get everybody up to speed as much as we can at SHR. I feel as comfortable as I can just for the fact that you don’t have the expectations you haven’t lived up to. You lived up to them. You know how to do that. You’re going to continue to take that to the next level to prepare yourself from a mental standpoint, from a physical standpoint, from a team standpoint, and just get better. Sometimes it’s not going to be good enough. You have to have it all go your way. If you’re winning, putting all the effort in you need, you’re going to be in good shape.”

To win one title is hard enough; to win two is even more difficult. Have you thought about what it would mean?
“Yeah, I don’t really search for a lot of advice within our sport, other than the guys and gals on our team. Ricky Carmichael has kind of been the guy I’ve talked to about a lot of things I’ve had happen over the last four or five years, moving teams, what he thinks. He’s not really in the circle, but just giving opinions as my friend. He’s been very successful at what he does. We’ve talked about how you get motivated to race for another title after you’ve won a title. That’s really what I talked about today. That’s just the fear of failure after you’ve succeeded. But everything he tells me is the second one usually comes easier because of the fact you know what to expect, you know the time and commitment and mental focus and the preparation it takes to get to that point. So it’s hard to get it all to line up. Even if you feel like you’re at the top of your game, winning races, being successful, it’s still going to be hard for it all to line up to make it work. I don’t think it’s out of the question, but it will be hard to do.”

How do you refocus after winning a championship?
“You don’t want to fail after you’ve succeeded. For me, you know, probably look back on it and say maybe you didn’t take the time to enjoy it enough. For me, I don’t want to send the perception to anybody that we’re not as focused as we were last year. So you almost work harder to hide the feelings and the things that you’ve accomplished from 2014 because you really want to focus on 2015 to be able to accomplish those goals again. It’s been almost a little bit over the top, I guess you could say, in trying to send that message to my guys and the team. Make sure that what happened last year, whether it’s good or bad, you have to be over it. That’s really the approach we take from a week‑to‑week standpoint. Win or lose, Monday morning you have to focus on the next week.”

Kevin Harvick’s Sprint Unlimited & Budweiser Duel/125 Performance Profile:
YearEventStartFinishStatus/LapsLaps LedEarnings
2014Sprint Unlimited65Running, 75/756$47,355
 Budweiser Duel1224Penalty, 60/600$24,738
2013Sprint Unlimited171Running, 75/7540$205,075
 Budweiser Duel131Running, 60/6023$57,792
2012×Budweiser Shootout2222Accident, 54/824$20,025
Gatorade Duel127Running, 60/600$25,225
2011Budweiser Shootout187Running, 75/750$42,575
 ×Gatorade Duel93Running, 62/6220$36,713
2010×Budweiser Shootout21Running, 76/7621$202,357
 Gatorade Duel152Running, 60/600$38,970
2009×Budweiser Shootout271Running, 78/781$200,000
 Gatorade Duel2418Running, 60/600$21,413
2008×Gatorade Duel217Running, 64/647$24,313
2007Budweiser Shootout205Running, 70/7011$53,000
Gatorade Duel1429Rear End, 25/600$19,683
2006×Budweiser Shootout1820Engine, 15/720$31,377
 ×Gatorade Duel516Running, 64/640$20,083
2005Gatorade Duel221Accident, 35/6013$21,313
2004Budweiser Shootout53Running, 70/7010$63,000
 Gatorade Twin 12555Running, 50/500$29,689
2003Budweiser Shootout169Running, 70/700$39,700
 Gatorade Twin 125324Handling, 40/5010$21,745
2002Gatorade Twin 12514Running, 50/501$27,884

Kevin Harvick Daytona International Speedway Performance Profile:
YearEventStartFinishStatus/LapsLaps LedEarnings
2014Daytona 5003813Running, 200/2000$368,196
 *Coke Zero 4001339Running, 46/1120$126,273
2013Daytona 500342Accident, 47/2000$345,168
 ×Coke Zero 400263Running, 161/1610$224,301
2012×Daytona 500137Running, 202/2020$415,261
Coke Zero 4001123Running, 159/1600$141,666
2011×Daytona 500742Engine, 22/2085$328,949
 ×Coke Zero 400317Running, 170/17016$160,711
2010×Daytona 50057Running, 208/20841$421,796
 ×†Coke Zero 40011Running, 166/16628$344,751
2009*Daytona 500322Running, 152/1520$1,115,724
†Coke Zero 4002726Running, 160/1600$129,428
2008Daytona 5001614Running, 200/2000$322,224
 ×Coke Zero 4001412Running, 162/1620$146,761
2007×Daytona 500341Running, 202/2024$1,510,469
 Pepsi 400834Running, 147/1603$131,936
2006×Daytona 5002814Running, 203/2031$302,244
Pepsi 400329Running, 160/1601$140,386
2005×Daytona 5003028Running, 198/2031$288,799
Pepsi 400724Running, 160/1600$131,186
2004Daytona 500104Running, 200/2006$610,792
 Pepsi 4001114Running, 160/1600$118,303
2003*Daytona 500314Running, 109/1090$569,630
 Pepsi 40029Running, 160/16054$113,553
2002Daytona 500236Crash, 148/2003$190,437
 Pepsi 400111Running, 160/16013$112,253
2001Pepsi 4001025Running, 160/1602$94,302
* Race cut short due to weather. × Race length extended due to green-white-checkered finish. † Qualifying canceled due to weather, starting position set via car owner points.

- True Speed Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing

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