Kevin Harvick encouraged that Texas drought could end soon

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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FORT WORTH, Texas — There was little good for Kevin Harvick the last time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series raced at Texas Motor Speedway.

There is little bad for Harvick this time — at least after Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions.

Harvick qualified third and wore a smile nearly as wide as pole-sitter Austin Dillon’s after a productive day. It was quite a difference from how he felt at this 1.5-mile track in April.

“We had a bad weekend in the spring,’’ Harvick said Friday. “We didn’t qualify well. We didn’t feel like we raced well. Just didn’t have a handle on the car all weekend. We unloaded fairly close today and had speed in both race trim and qualifying trim and that’s usually a good sign for us.’’

A bad day for Harvick was a 10th-place finish in the spring. It continued a drought at this track — he’s never won a Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Harvick looks at Kansas as a sign of encouragement. He had been the runner-up three of the previous five races before he won there last month.

He also looks back to last fall’s race at Texas as a sign that he can challenge for the win.

“I felt we had a car capable of winning the last fall race and the shifter broke off and I had to hold it in gear,’’ he said of his third-place finish.

What also is encouraging to Harvick about Friday’s performance is what it could mean in the championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Provided he gets there. He enters Sunday’s race 16 points out of the final cutoff spot.

The tires used at Texas will be used at Homestead. These tires also were used at Chicagoland Speedway.

“We feel like this is an important race because it’s on the same tires as Homestead, it’s a very similar surface as Homestead, so there is a lot to be learned,’’ Harvick said.

“Even though we haven’t won here, I feel like this is a good racetrack to come to and next week is our best racetrack,’’ Harvick said of Phoenix International Raceway, where he’s won six of the last eight races. “Everybody is jacked up.’’