Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), collected his first win of the NASCAR Cup Series season two weeks ago at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway to virtually clinch his spot in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Now, he would like to check another item off of his to-do list Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
Harvick has scored Cup Series wins at 20 of 23 racetracks on the current Cup Series schedule. He lacks only Kentucky, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth – all tracks with a race remaining on the 2017 schedule.
The only driver to win at more tracks than Harvick is 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, who has won races at 21 of 23 venues the series visits and needs wins at only Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Pocono.
For Harvick, Kentucky also happens to be the only track on the current schedule where he’s yet to score a top-five finish.
The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion had a strong effort at the newly repaved Kentucky Speedway in his most recent visit there in 2016. He started from the pole position after inclement weather cancelled Cup Series qualifying and the starting lineup was set according to the NASCAR Rule Book. He went on to lead a race-high 128 of 267 laps around the 1.5-mile oval, but fuel strategy caused him to make a late-race pit stop that foiled his strong run and ended in a ninth-place finish.
The Bakersfield, California native has scored four straight top-10 finishes at Kentucky dating back to 2013 with a best finish of seventh coming in 2014.
Since Harvick scored his first Cup Series win of the 2017 campaign at Sonoma, he now looks to build on his playoff points heading into the championship run. His eight playoff points are currently tied for sixth in the Cup Series, 13 behind leader Martin Truex Jr.’s 21 playoff points.
The best way to score the maximum amount of playoff points in a race is to win races. Harvick and the No. 4 team can accomplish both goals with a win this weekend at Kentucky – crossing another track off his list and scoring the most playoff points possible.
The No. 4 Busch Light team will give it everything it has to earn the win and the points Saturday night at Kentucky.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion:
Kentucky was always known for being one of the roughest tracks on the circuit. How much different is it without all those bumps since the repave?
“It feels great, to tell you the truth. My neck doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t pound your heels and your neck to the point where you can’t hardly walk for two days. I think everybody loves the character in the racetrack but, when you see them dry this particular racetrack now, the drainage is fixed, as well as the other things that were actually wrong. I don’t think anybody minds bumps and character in a racetrack. It’s just when we sat here for hours a couple of years ago with water running out of the racetrack, that was just, I think, the final straw that broke the camel’s back, that you had to go out and fix it and make it right. I like the thought process.”
How common is that experience that you had here with your neck and feet?
“This one was probably by far the worst. You have different problems at different tracks, but these were jarring (bumps) because of the fact they were down the straightaway and the car would actually almost come off the ground in certain spots and bounce around. It was just jarring-type hits that were almost jumps.”