In the State of Indiana during the 1980s, Gary Roosevelt could not be topped in boys high school track and field. From 1981 to 1989, the school won every state title under legendary coach John Campbell.
Roosevelt has won a record 20 state track titles in Indiana, while the now-closed Gary Frobel is second with 14. Gary West Side has won six championships, while Gary Horace Mann won four and Gary Tolleston took the top spot once. Mann and Tolleston are also closed down.
But the Roosevelt track teams of the 1980s were unbeatable, and the trophy case shows their dominance.
The track portion of track of field awards points are based on how fast runners can get from point A to point B. It’s similar to NASCAR racing. And much like Roosevelt in the 1980s, Kevin Harvick is unbeatable at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.
He hasn’t won nine consecutive races, but he has dominated the mile oval in the desert. Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has a series-high nine career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins at Phoenix to top a list that shows Jimmie Johnson next-best with “just” four career wins. Harvick has two Busch poles, 16 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s and has led a total of 1,595 laps in his 32 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix.
He has won seven of the last 13 NASCAR Cup Series races at Phoenix and is the only driver to win four in a row. He won the November 2013 race, swept the 2014 races and won in March 2015 before ending his streak with a runner-up finish in November 2015.
Only five drivers have won consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races at Phoenix and Harvick is the only driver to win consecutive races twice. Harvick also swept both races in 2006.
Harvick has scored a perfect 150.0 driver rating at Phoenix on three occasions. His first was in November 2006, when he started second, led 252 of 312 laps and reached victory lane. His second was during his November 2014 win, when he started third and led 264 of 312 laps. His third came during his March 2015 win, when he started first and led 224 of 312 laps.
In the 1980s, when other schools raced against the Gary Roosevelt High School Panthers, they knew that they would be freaky fast.
Just like the NASCAR competitors know that Harvick is also freaky fast.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What’s the most difficult thing about racing at Phoenix?
“The hardest thing about racing at Phoenix is if you get behind. It’s really easy to do there because you don’t have a lot of time to make pit stops and you have very few chances to adjust on your car to make it race better. The strategy is always tough because track position is so important. If you get behind making a four-tire call and the rest of the field takes two tires, it takes you a long time to get back to where you need to be. No matter what position you are in, it’s going to take away points or a chance to win if you get behind.”
When you go to Phoenix, are you trying to win or are you trying to survive?
“When we go to Phoenix, we are always going for the win. That’s been a great racetrack for me, personally, and since I’ve been at SHR, it’s become statistically one of our best racetracks as far as win counts go. It’s definitely a racetrack that we circle every year where we think we should have an opportunity to win.”
RODNEY CHILDERS, Crew Chief of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Last week at Las Vegas was the first real test for the new rules packages. What are your thoughts on it?
“It’s definitely a different type of racing. I felt like overall we learned a lot throughout the weekend. When we unloaded, we weren’t very good and we made big gains on it for qualifying, and then during Saturday practice we weren’t that good but made big gains on it for the race. Everyone did a really good job with it. I think we’re just going to have to keep learning on it each week. I think the racing is going to be quite different at the different types of racetracks.”
You guys have been really good at Phoenix. What will it take to win?
“Just getting this package figured out and getting the car figured out. You’re going to have to get your car to turn better than anyone else’s and roll turns three and four really good. We’ve been good before and hopefully we can be good again.”
To the layman, what is the difference between the rules package that we saw at Las Vegas and what we are going to see at Phoenix?
“Phoenix is basically the same body, but you don’t have the drag ducts in the front. You’ll have brake ducts going to your front routers and front calipers. Then, of course, you have the 750-horsepower engine at Phoenix instead of the 550 horsepower that we had at Vegas. A little bit more downforce – the cars are built for downforce and a little bit more power.”