Kevin Harvick has 45 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories, including the four most iconic events – the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Brickyard 400 and Southern 500.
He won the championship in 2014 and has won almost everywhere. Save for Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
This week, for the 37th consecutive time, he’ll attempt to get his first win at Pocono in the Cup Series. But, oh has he been close.
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has four second-place finishes, 12 top-fives, 17 top-10s and has led a total of 187 laps in his 36 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Pocono. His average start there is 16.2, his average finish is 12.5, and he has a lap-completion rate of 95.1 percent – 6,130 of the 6,449 laps available.
The combination of Harvick competing at Pocono in SHR equipment is also very impressive. In his last 10 Cup Series starts there, all for SHR, he has the four runner-up finishes and only one finish worse than 14th – 42nd in August 2015. And of the 187 total laps Harvick has led at Pocono dating back to his rookie year in 2001, 182 (97 percent) have come with SHR despite only 10 (27.7 percent) of his 36 Pocono starts being with SHR.
Harvick led a total of 119 laps in Pocono’s two 2018 races en route to a pair of fourth-place finishes.
His childhood hero, Rick Mears, who like Harvick is from Bakersfield, California, won at Pocono three times in IndyCar racing, taking the checkered flag in 1982, 1985 and 1987. But Pocono is a track unlike any other, made up of just three distinct turns.
The triangular layout was designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rodger Ward, who modeled each of its three turns after a different track.
Turn one, which is banked at 14 degrees, is modeled after the legendary Trenton (N.J.) Speedway. Turn two, banked at eight degrees, is a nod to the turns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And turn three, banked at six degrees, is modeled after the corners at The Milwaukee Mile.
At the end of the day, Harvick would just like to order up a win this weekend to get closer to victory at every track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit.
That’s because seemingly all the legends – Richard Petty, Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt to IndyCar stars like Mark Donohue, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti – have won there.
And Harvick would like to add his name to that list.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts on heading to Pocono this week?
“As we go to Pocono, we obviously want to win there, especially since it’s one of the two tracks we haven’t won at. I know that Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and the organization itself have put a lot of effort into that particular weekend, trying to get to victory lane and take that race off the list. It’s a place I enjoy going – not so much the place I enjoyed going in my previous life before I came to Stewart-Haas Racing. It was never a track we ran very well at, but we’ve come to find out that if you have the cars where they need to be and the people around you, things are much different. So, Pocono is a place that I’ve learned to enjoy more than I did in my previous life at RCR (Richard Childress Racing).”
The group at Pocono has done so much to improve the infrastructure and fan experience. What does that mean for the racetrack?
“Well, people see effort. When you go to Pocono, you see effort from the time you turn into the tunnel and see the waterfall – going through the tunnel to the guardrails all the way to the campgrounds. Everything there has been in a transition. You feel like you’re having more fun when you go to Pocono now than you did, say, six or seven years ago.”