Kevin Harvick has shown up at Homestead-Miami Speedway five of the last six years and raced for the NASCAR Cup Series championship. He won the title in 2014, finished runner-up in 2015 to champion Kyle Busch, eighth in 2016 and third in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Harvick enters this weekend’s Homestead 400 first in points, but there will be no championship at stake this time around. The Homestead race was scheduled for March and then got moved to Sunday due to COVID-19.
That doesn’t mean Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), won’t be ready to score a win in South Florida.
He’s had great success at Homestead with one win, one pole, 11 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and has led a total of 414 laps in his 19 career NASCAR Cup Series starts there. His average start is 11.8, his average finish is 6.4 and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.9 percent – 5,078 of 5,079 laps available. His last finish outside the top-10 was a 19th-place result in November 2007. He has only two finishes outside the top-10 and has finished in the top-five every year since 2014.
Harvick won the November 2006 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Homestead, as well as the Xfinity Series pole in November 2004. He has five top-10 finishes in eight career Xfinity Series starts. And in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Harvick has raced at Homestead six times and won one race – November 2009. He has four top-five finishes in six Truck races at Homestead.
It will be the third race in eight days as Harvick won last Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, finished 15th Wednesday night at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and now heads to Homestead. It’s a stretch of 1,092 laps and 1,164 miles, and the temperatures haven’t exactly been cool, either.
But Harvick is a veteran and will look for career win number 52 at Homestead.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Could you describe your relationship with crew chief Rodney Childers and the success you’ve been able to have?
“You know, to be able to do the things we’ve been able to do and the accomplishments and races, but in the end we have a great friendship, we have a great relationship, like to help each other as people, and that goes a long way in the trust factor that is there between Rodney and myself. But not only us, but the team and the engineers and everybody believes in what we’re doing with all the work and things that go into putting the cars on the track.”
Does the fact that you guys have been able to build such a stable, long-term relationship since about 2014 help you as you continue to navigate the challenges of social distancing in this new era of racing?
“I mean, it’s definitely different. You know, obviously I think our experience is something that goes a long way just because we have to communicate in a different way, but we also know each other very well, and we know that, when we come to certain racetracks, we have to do certain things because those are things I like with the car and things he likes to do with the cars to get there. It’s definitely different not going to the shop and not being in the hauler and not having all the meetings and conversations and things that go with it, so it’s definitely a strange time, for sure.”
With the condensed schedules with no practice and no qualifying, do you feel there’s still a benefit to at-track practice, and how have you and Rodney navigated the path of not having that?
“I would much rather not practice, personally, but you know, it definitely – you can definitely have both sides to that equation. I think for me, the benefit is having an experienced team and being able to get things close is something that our team is really good at. I think when we get done with all of this and we look at our schedules and we look at our on-track time and we look at the way we qualify and the things we do, you’re going to have to look at it. You’re going to have to look at how you function and how you do everything because it’s been a success. It’s been something that is – I mean, it’s very different than anything anybody would have ever thought about, and now you’re forced to try it, and it really hasn’t affected the way the race looks, it hasn’t affected who runs up front. So there’s just a number of things I think we have to consider going forward from not only a cost-saving perspective, but just a time-saving, schedule-crunching, there’s a number of all the – with all the things we’ve done, that have created a number of questions.”