|Kevin Harvick had an early exit last week at Pocono Raceway.|
The Sprint Cup point leader would like to score his third Sprint Cup win Sunday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in the Cheez-It 355k at The Glen. 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.
The Bakersfield, California native scored two Sprint Cup wins within the season’s first four weeks, but it has now been 18 weeks since the No. 4 Chevrolet has made an appearance in victory lane.
Only Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch have more wins in 2015. Harvick, SHR teammate Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth are the only other drivers to win two races. Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards each have one win. In total, the 2015 season has produced 11 different winners through the first 21 Sprint Cup races.
Harvick is no stranger to victory lane at Watkins Glen. He scored a Sprint Cup victory at Watkin Glen International in 2006, when he started seventh and led 28 of 90 laps and beat current SHR teammate Tony Stewart to the finish line by 0.892 of a second.
Harvick also visited victory lane in the NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Watkins Glen in August 2007. Harvick started from the 11th position, but turned in a dominant performance when he quickly raced his way to the front where he led 49 of 82 laps to beat runner-up Jeff Burton by 3.529 seconds.
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 five regular-season Sprint Cup events to secure his spot in the Chase.
Twenty-one races into 2015, Harvick has a series-best 14 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s and sits atop the driver standings with 780 points. The No. 4 Chevrolet SS has led a series-high 1,362 laps with an average finish of 8.3. The 1,362 laps led are 641 more than the next-closest competitor – 721 by his SHR teammate Busch.
Harvick has led at least one lap in 17 of 21 Sprint Cup races in 2015, including a streak of 14 in a row fromMarch 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: 119.6 driver rating, 30 bonus points, 850 fastest laps run, 22.1 percent of fastest laps run, 23.6 percent of laps led, 1,701.3 miles led, 5,207 laps in the top-15, 90.1 percent of laps in the top-15, and average running position of 7.591 in addition to his average finish of 8.3.
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 five races starting this weekend at Watkins Glen.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS:
What is the key to having a good race at Watkins Glen International?
“Watkins Glen is really fast, so the biggest thing there is to get your car good under braking so you can make passes during the race. Usually where you can gain the most time is in the braking zones.”
What sections or turns are the most challenging at Watkins Glen International?
“It just depends on how your car is handling. I think they can all present problems. As the race goes on Turn 1 becomes more of an issue because it’s downhill and the brakes start to get worn out. The wheel hop becomes easier to start happening as the race goes on. That is the one you have got to watch for me during the race, but they all present different challenges.”
Are the road courses still odd-ball races or do they seem like just another race now?
“They are pretty much just another race now. I think everybody knows that you are going to a road course and you’ve got a lot of different aspects from a driver’s standpoint and the team standpoint that you have to pay attention to.”
How does Watkins Glen International differ compared to Sonoma Raceway?
“There is a lot of speed difference. At Watkins Glen (International) you go from Turn 1, up through the esses and into the inner loop and end up running about 170-180 miles per hour down the backstretch. At Sonoma (Raceway) you’re lucky to get above 100 miles per hour, so speed is definitely the biggest difference.”
Do you feel like we need a road course in the Chase?
“I think you could debate that either way. I think when you look at that with the percentage that we have right now it probably doesn’t add up, but it would definitely make the Chase more diverse.”
Kevin Harvick Watkins Glen Performance Profile:
|2014||Cheez-It 355k||4||7||Running, 90/90||0||$128,598|
|2013||Cheez-It 355k||26||13||Running, 90/90||8||$123,946|
|2012||Finger Lakes 355k||19||15||Running, 90/90||0||$119,821|
|2011||×Heluva Good! at The Glen||23||6||Running, 92/92||0||$139,386|
|2010||Heluva Good! at The Glen||20||11||Running, 90/90||0||$112,851|
|2009||Heluva Good! at The Glen||21||35||Running, 68/90||0||$100,328|
|2008||†Centurion Boats at The Glen||11||6||Running, 90/90||0||$134,661|
|2007||†Centurion Boats at The Glen||9||36||Running, 84/90||0||$107,961|
|2006||AMD at The Glen||7||1||Running, 90/90||28||$223,161|
|2005||†×Sirius @ The Glen||13||15||Running, 92/92||0||$109,331|
|2004||†Sirius @ The Glen||9||6||Running, 90/90||1||$102,943|
|2003||Sirius @ The Glen||11||5||Running, 90/90||0||$96,408|
|2002||Sirius @ The Glen||6||14||Running, 90/90||0||$85,938|
|2001||Global Crossing @ The Glen||10||7||Running, 90/90||0||$88,387|
× 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