|Kevin Harvick is 4/1 favorite to win at Pocono on Sunday.|
For Harvick, it’s something akin to picking up the triangle solitaire puzzle game, where the goal is to jump golf tees over each other until just one remains. Each attempt starts with optimism but ends in frustration when more than one peg remains. Pocono is the racetrack equivalent to the triangle solitaire puzzle game for Harvick.
The “Tricky Triangle” is one of only five Sprint Cup racetracks where Harvick has yet to record a Sprint Cup win. Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the other four.
The Bakersfield, California native has run well at Pocono, scoring seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in his 29 career Sprint Cup starts, but has yet to reach victory lane in NASCAR’s top series. He seems to be getting close, however, as he’s scored runner-up finishes in his last two Sprint Cup starts at Pocono.
In August 2014, Harvick started sixth, led five laps and finished second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 0.228 of a second. This past June, he started fifth, led 39 laps and was runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. by 1.346 seconds.
Harvick does have a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Pocono, scoring the win from the pole position while driving for his own team on Aug. 7, 2011. He led 44 of 53 laps to beat Kyle Busch to the finish line by 1.140 seconds.
The Sprint Cup points leader would like nothing more than to score his first Sprint Cup win Sunday at Pocono. A win would be Harvick’s third of the 2015 season. He scored his first of the year in the season’s third race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and his second the very next week at Phoenix International Raceway.
Only Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch have more wins in 2015. Harvick, SHR teammate Kurt Busch and Earnhardt are the only other drivers to win two races. Truex, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards each have one win. In total, the 2015 season has produced 11 different winners through the first 20 Sprint Cup races.
Harvick clinched his spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoff field with his eighth-place finish July 11 at Kentucky. Harvick is now guaranteed to finish in the top-30 in driver points after race No. 26 Sept. 12 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. He only needs to attempt to qualify for the remaining six regular-season Sprint Cup events to secure his spot in the Chase.
Twenty races into 2015, Harvick has a series-best 14 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s and sits atop the driver standings with 777 points. The No. 4 Chevrolet SS has led a series-high 1,359 laps with an average finish of 6.6. The 1,359 laps led are 651 more than the next-closest competitor – 708 by his SHR teammate Busch.
Harvick has led at least one lap in 16 of 20 Sprint Cup races in 2015, including a streak of 14 in a row from March 1 at Atlanta Motor Speedway through June 14 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The staggering number of laps led and the 14 consecutive races with laps led is among numerous other impressive numbers Harvick has compiled this season.
He leads several other statistical categories: 123.1 driver rating, 29 bonus points, 848 fastest laps run, 22.1 percent of fastest laps run, 24.2 percent of laps led, 1,693.8 miles led, 5,187 laps in the top-15, 92.3 percent of laps in the top-15, and average running position of 6.119 in addition to his average finish of 6.6.
While Harvick and the No. 4 team are locked into the Chase field by points and wins, gaining bonus points for additional wins is now their top priority through the next six races starting this weekend at Pocono.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS:
What’s it like taking a lap around Pocono?
“I think when you look at Pocono, you know that you’re going to have a challenge of getting your car to handle in all three corners. That’s the biggest challenge when it comes to Pocono. You have to make sure you can get all you can coming to turn three because that straightaway is really, really long. You can kind of give up the tunnel, but you still need to be very good in all three corners and it’s just a different style of racetrack than what we go to on a week-to-week basis.”
Explain what makes the tunnel turn at Pocono so difficult?
“The tunnel turn is difficult just because you try to carry so much speed through there. It’s not an extremely hard corner, but it’s an extremely hard corner to carry speed through there without having the front end push or the back slide out, or whatever the case may be. It’s not an extremely hard corner until you try to go through there as fast as you can lap after lap. It’s an easy corner to make a mistake and you can give up a lot of time there, but you can also make a lot of time.”
Chassis Information: Chassis No. 4-843: Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS built on Chassis No. 4-843 in the Windows 10 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Built in 2014, Chassis No. 4-843 won two races, two pole positions and led 748 laps in its first season. Harvick won the pole and led 238 laps en route to winning the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. At Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Harvick won the pole, led 223 laps and finished 13th. The final race of 2014 for Chassis No. 4-843 was perhaps the most impressive as it started third and led 264 laps in a must-win performance that kept Harvick’s slim Sprint Cup championship hopes alive at Phoenix International Raceway in November. In its two starts of 2015, Harvick started and finished second and led 116 of 325 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and started eight, led 26 laps and finished ninth in the Coca-Cola 600.
Kevin Harvick Pocono Raceway Performance Profile:
- True Speed Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing
|2015||Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400||5||2||Running, 160/160||39||$232,850|
|2014||Pocono 400||4||14||Running, 160/160||0||$119,523|
|GoBowling.com 400||6||2||Running, 160/160||5||$206,058|
|2013||†Party in the Poconos 400||5||9||Running, 160/160||0||$130,571|
|GoBowling.com 400||14||17||Running, 160/160||0||$123,171|
|2012||Pocono 400||21||14||Running, 160/160||0||$122,121|
|*Pennsylvania 400||21||16||Running, 98/98||0||$120,796|
|2011||5-Hour Energy 500||32||5||Running, 200/200||0||$153,961|
|Good Sam RV Insurance 500||10||14||Running, 200/200||0||$122,636|
|2010||Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500||22||4||Running, 204/204||5||$153,249|
|Pennsylvania 500||14||4||Running, 200/200||0||$151,476|
|2009||†Pocono 500||24||24||Running, 200/200||0||$108,078|
|†Pennsylvania 500||23||12||Running, 200/200||0||$114,628|
|2008||Pocono 500||28||13||Running, 200/200||0||$118,061|
|Pennsylvania 500||21||4||Running, 200/200||0||$153,936|
|2007||*Pocono 500||19||11||Running, 106/106||0||$119,636|
|Pennsylvania 500||23||17||Running, 200/200||0||$114,186|
|2006||Pocono 500||12||13||Running, 200/200||0||$109,661|
|Pennsylvania 500||12||5||Running, 200/200||0||$134,436|
|2005||×Pocono 500||8||8||Running, 201/201||0||$125,011|
|×Pennsylvania 500||10||6||Running, 203/203||0||$131,661|
|2004||Pocono 500||23||20||Running, 200/200||0||$95,593|
|Pennsylvania 500||18||32||Engine, 141/200||0||$88,618|
|2003||Pocono 500||20||25||Running, 199/200||0||$84,018|
|Pennsylvania 500||31||12||Running, 200/200||0||$88,428|
|2002||†Pocono 500||30||39||Transmission, 81/200||0||$81,028|
|*Pennsylvania 500||29||6||Running, 175/175||0||$98,943|
|2001||Pocono 500||19||15||Running, 200/200||0||$83,567|
|Pennsylvania 500||6||20||Running, 200/200||0||$83,667|
× Race length extended due to green-white-checkered finish. * Race cut short due to weather.
† Qualifying canceled due to weather, starting position set via car owner points