Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is heading to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Las Vegas 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in search of his 100th career win in NASCAR’s top three series and his 100th top-10 result since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series.
Harvick scored career win No. 98 Saturday in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Atlanta, and No. 99 Sunday in the NASCAR Cup Series event.
As the 2014 Cup Series champion heads to Las Vegas looking for win No. 100, he also will be looking for the 100th top-10 result since joining forces with crew chief Rodney Childers at SHR.
The Bakersfield, California, native has collected 75 points through the first two Cup Series events of 2018, which ranks fourth in the series but, more importantly, last weekend’s Cup Series win at Atlanta secures the No. 4 Jimmy John’s team’s position in the NASCAR playoffs. The team has collected a series-best six playoff points through the first two events of the season – five points for the win and one for winning Sunday’s first stage.
Harvick has also led a series-best 181 of 532 total laps through the first two Cup Series events of the year. Ryan Blaney is second with 118.
Thus, there is reason to believe Harvick’s strong start will continue at the 1.5-mile track in Las Vegas this weekend.
He dominated the Las Vegas 400 in 2015 to score his first win in only the third race of the season and his first at Las Vegas. His No. 4 car led five times for a race-high 142 laps en route to his 29th career Cup Series win.
The 42-year-old driver also has two wins in Xfinity Series competition at Las Vegas. His first came in March 2004, when he started 11th, led 14 laps and raced his way to victory by .119 of a second over runner-up Kasey Kahne.
Harvick’s second Xfinity win at Las Vegas came in February 2010. Driving his own No. 33 car for Kevin Harvick Inc., he started second, led 82 laps and beat runner-up Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.361 seconds. It was the sixth win for Harvick’s team in the Xfinity Series.
He is still searching for his first Cup Series pole at Las Vegas, but he did win the pole for the Xfinity race in 2007, when he turned a lap at 181.111 mph.
Harvick’s goal this weekend at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway is to score his second win of the 2018 Cup Series season, the 100th win of his career in NASCAR’s top three series, and his 100th top-10 Cup Series result since joining SHR.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What’s it like to sit here with 99 wins in NASCAR’s top three series and to be chasing win No. 100?
“It’s crazy that you can sit here and think that I’ve won 99 races in NASCAR’s top three series. I’m honored to say that I’ve gone to victory lane – ever. To be able to live out and get paid to do what you used to do for a hobby and now call it your job is pretty incredible. For me, it’s really taken up until I went to Stewart-Haas Racing to have an appreciation of how much you actually love sitting in this racecar. I am so lucky to be able to do what I do, drive around in circles, travel to all these places – there really isn’t ever a day that my job isn’t fun. To be able to have won that many races with some great people at different teams and different racetracks is something I really don’t ever think about it. I don’t ever look at stats a lot. I like to look at stats, but I like to look at everybody else’s stats when I’m doing the TV stuff. For me, it’s my job. It’s what I do. We’ve been fortunate to have so much success at it.”
What was it like to have all four Stewart-Haas Racing cars perform well at Atlanta?
“Everybody was really pleased with the performance at the first 1.5-mile race. The thing I took away from it was the No. 10 car and Aric Almirola were more competitive for us and that is important for us to have that extra set of notes that we really hadn’t used the last several years because that car hasn’t performed well enough. It hasn’t been competitive enough to really bring anything to the table. To see that No. 10 car running well is great for myself, Kurt (Busch) and Clint (Bowyer) and, really, everybody at SHR. To see Kurt up there leading laps. To see (No. 10 car crew chief) Billy Scott with a car up there that was winning the race with Kurt driving it had to be great confidence for him and his abilities. It was a great first weekend on the 1.5-mile tracks for SHR.”
Compare Atlanta to Las Vegas.
“The size of the racetrack is about the only similarity. Atlanta is so worn out and the surface is so abrasive. You go to Las Vegas and it’s newer and doesn’t have those huge rocks in the surface that wears the tires out. Las Vegas does still wear the tires out and you’ll have quite a bit of fall-off, but there is a really, really high pace. The hardest thing about that pace is the bumps in the middle of turns one and two on the bottom of the track. A lot of the guys will run the middle of the racetrack as the weekend goes on, and the groove will move all the way up against the wall. The other thing we’ll have to deal with is 20- to 25-mph winds at Las Vegas. A couple of years ago, we were in the middle of a sandstorm there at the beginning of the race. Vegas is really fast, and we deal with some fall-off, but we still carry a lot of speed.”