This week, four drivers will be eliminated from the NASCAR playoffs as the first round is coming to an end and only 12 drivers will be moving onto the next round. So, pressure is high.
Except for Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Busch, who have already clinched their spots in the Round of 12. So this week’s race on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway “roval” should be fairly easy.
But, let’s be honest, nothing is easy in the NASCAR playoffs. While there is little to gain, the bottom line is Harvick likes to win. That’s the whole point of being in NASCAR racing.
While there is little to gain at Charlotte, a win would put Harvick in elite company. He is looking for his 49th win in NASCAR’s top series, which would put him past 2013 Hall of Famer Herb Thomas and into a tie with his boss Tony Stewart for 14th on the all-time list.
A win at Charlotte would also give him a victory at every “road course” in NASCAR as he’s already scored victories at both true road courses on the schedule – Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Busch and Truex are the only other active drivers who have won at The Glen and Sonoma.
The Charlotte roval is a “road course” built within the oval portion for Charlotte Motor Speedway. Think Daytona International Speedway for the IMSA sportscars or Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy cars. Charlotte has only had one race on the roval, but Harvick also has failed to win on the ovals at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
So he could check off another racetrack from his list this weekend.
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has three wins, 10 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s in 2019. And he’s had two consecutive top-10 finishes to the starts the playoffs.
He’s been freaky fast again in 2019.
And he hopes to be in victory lane Sunday afternoon at Charlotte
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Are you worry-free going into the roval weekend?
“It’ll be a nice week at home. I think it allows everybody to really go, and the biggest thing is you want to go try and learn what you need to do to run fast there, so this week we’ll go to the simulator and try to transfer that to the racetrack and see how practice goes and then we’ll see how the weekend goes. You definitely still want to go there and get a race win or something that will go forward with you and also learn something for the future.”
Do you use the Ford simulator much for the road courses?
“We do. For me, it is just because I’m a big kind of visual person. So that repetition for me is good, just to get a visual and have that memory of curbs and direction of the track and all the things you remember from last time spurred in your memory bank as you use those simulators. So we’ve actually started to use it more this year than we have in the past.”
Does it give you a good base setup or more just feel and sightlines?
“For me, it’s more feel and sightlines. I don’t know that it’s 100 percent setup stuff, unless you’re doing postrace stuff and then it’s more making sure that grip levels and lap times and those types of things are right and things that you wanted to work on that you saw from other cars and other ideas that you had from that particular weekend at the racetrack. I’d never done any of the simulator stuff until I got to Ford, but we’ve got two of them now. We can race each other, too.”