Kevin Harvick is one of the most prolific drivers in NASCAR. Regardless whether it’s been NASCAR Cup, the Xfinity Series or the Camping World Truck Series, Harvick has enjoyed success across the board.
All told, the Bakersfield, California native has a combined 95 wins across NASCAR’s top three national series: 35 in Cup, 46 in Xfinity and 14 in Trucks.
Six of those wins have come at Texas Motor Speedway: five in Xfinity and one in Trucks.
But as hard as it may seem to believe, Harvick has never taken home the ceremonial cowboy hat and pair of six-shooters for winning a Cup race at the 1.5-mile track. Texas is one of four tracks that Harvick has never won a Cup race at. The others are Kentucky, Pocono and Sonoma.
With a new, untested surface that will have Cup cars on it for the first time this weekend, Harvick may have his best chance of winning a Cup race deep in the heart of Texas.
All drivers will be on the same page because of the recently completed repaving. And that could be to Harvick’s advantage, as he’s one of the best when it comes to driving a new track by feel.
For example, he won the first race at Chicagoland Speedway when that 1.5-mile oval opened in 2001, and followed it up with another win the following year as well.
Harvick has made 28 Cup starts to date at Texas, with an average finish of 12.0 and an average start of 17.9.
The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet has six top-fives, including back-to-back runner-up finishes in fall 2014 and spring 2015, his highest showings there. He also has two third-place finishes and two other top-five finishes.
That’s plenty of incentive already to win at Texas. But there’s more.
Harvick has struggled this season by his usual performance standards. He has yet to win or earn a top-five. His best finishes have been sixth (Phoenix) and ninth (Atlanta).
Harvick will not only race in Sunday’s main event, he’ll get some additional track time in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.
“When we picked Texas, it was just a racetrack I like to race at and a market they (Hunt Brothers Pizza) wanted to be in,” Harvick said in a media release. “Little did we know it was going to be part of a repave and now it’s part of this weekend.
“It’s really going to be beneficial for me to see how the race track evolves and progresses throughout the weekend. To get a race underneath my belt on Saturday before we have to get in the car on Sunday is something where you can take a lot of information from the same tires and same air pressures. Just from the driver’s standpoint, to see where to drive on the racetrack is going to be very beneficial.”
Texas’ new racing surface is an unknown, but Harvick is ready.
“It does feel like we’re going in somewhat blind,” he said. “(TMS track president) Eddie Gossage spent a lot of time talking to the drivers and really trying to figure out what they could do to make their race track better since they were going to have to repave it.
“Turns one and two are much wider with a little bit less banking. The hope is that we’ll be able to carry a little more speed in there and have to use some brakes to slow the cars down. Turns three and four are virtually the same. They put a lot of thought into making things different.
“I think it’s going to be a great challenge. It’s like going to the roller-coaster park and getting on a roller coaster that scares you to death the first time. There’s nothing like going out there and getting scared to death, sliding around trying to figure out where you’re going. There’s a lot more to think about than normal.”