Kevin Harvick has started 76 races at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in his career. And he has three total wins for an winning average of 3.9 percent.
While his superspeedway win percentage isn’t his best, Harvick did win the biggest race of them all in 2007 when he led just four laps to take the Daytona 500 victory.
The truth is, Daytona and Talladega are different animals when it comes to stock car racing because they are races that literally anyone can win. Drivers must draft together, side-by-side, at speeds approaching 200 mph and a lot of the race is getting in the best position on the final lap to try and win the race.
That’s what Harvick will look to do in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega in his No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
Harvick will make his 39th NASCAR Cup Series Talladega start Sunday. He has one win, two poles, seven top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 260 laps there.
He scored his lone win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in April 2010, when he started fourth, led two of 200 laps and beat runner-up Jamie McMurray by .011 of a second.
Harvick earned his first Talladega Cup Series pole in May 2005 with a speed of 189.804 mph. He won his second Cup Series pole there in April 2018, when he recorded a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph. Harvick has three career Cup Series runner-up finishes at Talladega, most recently in October 2010, when he started 14th, led 12 laps and finished runner-up to Clint Bowyer.
Talladega is always interesting. And Harvick is hoping to score win number four on these “special” tracks and raise his winning percentage to 5.1.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Talladega vs. Daytona – what’s the difference for the spotter?
“Talladega is a lot bigger. It’s a lot wider. The track itself is bigger. The shape of Talladega is different than Daytona because of the track being wider and the way the tri-oval is shaped. The start-finish line is almost all the way down into turn one, which seems to change some of the outcomes of the finishes, because you have to go all the way down the front straightaway before you get to the finish line. Talladega’s tri-oval is a little bit different than Daytona’s. That bottom groove has a little less banking than the rest of the racetrack, so it’s almost like you’re dipping down into a hole. Sometimes you see guys get loose down into the tri-oval and spin out, so it ends up being where some of the wrecks are caused. It’s really hard to push through that tri-oval, especially as you are heading down into that bottom lane. It’s tough to know exactly where you need to be at the end of the race but, for me, I’ve only won one of them there. In that particular race, we were tandem racing and I was second coming into the tri-oval and was able to get past Jamie McMurray. But I would still rather be leading and in control. If I’ve made it to the white flag, then I’ve made it a lot farther than I’ve made it lately, so it’s a chess match all day. You have to have a little bit of luck on your side, but you can also put yourself in a good position by making the right moves, having a good day on pit road and not making any mistakes.”
Thoughts on Talladega?
“I have no idea. You just show up and see how it develops. All you can do is show up for a weekend at Talladega and see how it develops and go from there.”
TIM FEDEWA, Spotter of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Is Talladega one of the most difficult places to spot?
“It’s a tough place to spot. It’s intense at Talladega for everybody. Being in the draft is intense for the driver and for everybody. You just have to bring your ‘A’ game.”
What is the hardest spot to see at Talladega just because of how big it is?
“Turn four is toughest. Turn three, you have a bit of an angle, but the backstretch, depth perception is a bit of a struggle at times. It’s so flat back there that you can tell someone is out of line, but you don’t know if there are two more lanes out there or just the wall. You can think you are in the middle and then two cars can go outside of you instead of the one you thought. So that’s a bit different. Turn four is probably the hardest just because you are looking straight at them, but we face that at a lot of racetracks. Talladega is tougher just because we’re so far away.”
With the limited amount of crew members, there are times where you are guiding Harvick into the pits because Rodney (Childers, crew chief) is catching a fuel can or has other pit duties. Is that a challenge?
“It can be. At Charlotte, it was a little tough because we were down in turn one and I think we were pitting in stall 36 (toward turn four). You can see it OK, but your depth perception is a little different. If someone comes in front of him, you can’t tell how far out they are. But, to be honest, it’s been pretty straightforward.”
Busch Light Racing Team Report
Round 13 of 36 – GEICO 500 – Talladega Superspeedway
Car No.: 4 – Busch Light Ford Mustang
PR Contact: Joe Crowley, True Speed Communication (704) 875-3388 ext. 808 or Joe.Crowley@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Primary Team Members:
Driver: Kevin Harvick
Hometown: Bakersfield, California
Crew Chief: Rodney Childers
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Car Chief: Robert Smith
Hometown: Whitewater, Wisconsin
Engine Builder: Roush-Yates Engines
Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina
Engine Specialist: Robert Brandt
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
Spotter: Tim Fedewa
Hometown: Holt, Michigan
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Front Tire Changer: Shayne Pipala
Hometown: Frankfort Square, Illinois
Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Mike “Shrek” Morneau
Hometown: Oxford, Maine
Gas Man: Evan Marchal
Hometown: Westfield, Indiana
Jackman: Stan Dolittle
Hometown: Ninety Six, South Carolina
Windshield: Shawn Hopkins (also serves as interior mechanic)
Hometown: Chesterfield, Virginia
Talladega Notes of Interest:
· Dynamic Duo: While this is Harvick’s 20th year in the NASCAR Cup Series, it’s his seventh with crew chief Rodney Childers, which is the longest pairing of any current driver-crew chief combination. Since joining forces at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014, Harvick and Childers have combined to produce 28 points-paying victories, a victory in the non-points 2018 NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, 25 Busch poles, 112 top-five finishes and 162 top-10s while leading 10,150 laps. They won the 2014 championship, finished runner-up in the 2015 title chase to champion Kyle Busch, finished eighth in 2016 and third in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
· Harvick has career totals of 51 wins, 31 poles, 212 top-fives, 371 top-10s and 14,576 laps led in 694 starts.
· His most recent Cup Series win came on June 7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
· His most recent Busch Pole came in November 2019 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
· Harvick’s 51 career victories put him 12th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. He is third on the active driver list behind Jimmie Johnson and Busch. Harvick is three wins behind Lee Petty for 11th on the all-time wins list.
· At the Homestead season finale in 2019, Harvick became just the 11th driver to have led 14,000 laps in his NASCAR career. He’s led 14,576 and trails 10th-place Busch, who has led 17,554, and Johnson, who is ninth with 18,932 laps led. Harvick has led 10,150 laps as an SHR driver. He led his 10,000th lap as an SHR driver when he took the lead on lap 37 on June 7 at Atlanta.
· Points Position: Harvick arrives at Talladega first in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with 463 points, eight markers ahead of second-place Joey Logano. He’s led the points since the conclusion of the March 8 race at Phoenix Raceway.
· Harvick in the Cup Series at Talladega: Harvick will make his 39th NASCAR Cup Series Talladega start Sunday. He has one win, two poles, seven top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 260 laps. He scored his lone win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in April 2010, when he started fourth, led two of 200 laps and beat runner-up Jamie McMurray by .011 of a second. Harvick earned his first Talladega Cup Series pole in May 2005 with a speed of 189.804 mph. He won his second Cup Series pole there in April 2018, when he recorded a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph.Harvick has three career Cup Series runner-up finishes at Talladega, most recently in October 2010, when he started 14th, led 12 laps and finished runner-up to Clint Bowyer.
· Xfinity at Talladega: Harvick has competed in eight NASCAR Xfinity races at Talladega with a best finish of second in April 2006. He has led 95 laps and finished in the top-five twice.
· Laps Completed: Harvick is 16th all-time in laps completed with 198,888 after Sunday’s Homestead race. He should break 200,000 laps completed in late summer. He is the leader among active drivers and is closing in on Dale Earnhardt, who is 15th with 202,888.
· Already Playoff Bound – Harvick qualified for the 2020 Cup Series playoffs with his win May 17 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
· 112 and Counting – Harvick scored his 100th career win in NASCAR’s top three series with his March 2018 Las Vegas win. He now has 112 total victories – 51 in the Cup Series, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Truck Series. Only three other drivers in NASCAR history have passed 100 wins in NASCAR’s top three series: Richard Petty (200), David Pearson (106) and Busch (211).
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!