Kevin Harvick has started 76 races at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in his career. And he has three total wins for an winning average of 3.9 percent.
While his superspeedway win percentage isn’t his best, Harvick did win the biggest race of them all in 2007 when he led just four laps to take the Daytona 500 victory.
The truth is, Daytona and Talladega are different animals when it comes to stock car racing because they are races that literally anyone can win. Drivers must draft together, side-by-side, at speeds approaching 200 mph and a lot of the race is getting in the best position on the final lap to try and win the race.
That’s what Harvick will look to do in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega in his No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
Harvick will make his 39th NASCAR Cup Series Talladega start Sunday. He has one win, two poles, seven top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 260 laps there.
He scored his lone win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in April 2010, when he started fourth, led two of 200 laps and beat runner-up Jamie McMurray by .011 of a second.
Harvick earned his first Talladega Cup Series pole in May 2005 with a speed of 189.804 mph. He won his second Cup Series pole there in April 2018, when he recorded a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph. Harvick has three career Cup Series runner-up finishes at Talladega, most recently in October 2010, when he started 14th, led 12 laps and finished runner-up to Clint Bowyer.
Talladega is always interesting. And Harvick is hoping to score win number four on these “special” tracks and raise his winning percentage to 5.1.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Talladega vs. Daytona – what’s the difference for the spotter?
“Talladega is a lot bigger. It’s a lot wider. The track itself is bigger. The shape of Talladega is different than Daytona because of the track being wider and the way the tri-oval is shaped. The start-finish line is almost all the way down into turn one, which seems to change some of the outcomes of the finishes, because you have to go all the way down the front straightaway before you get to the finish line. Talladega’s tri-oval is a little bit different than Daytona’s. That bottom groove has a little less banking than the rest of the racetrack, so it’s almost like you’re dipping down into a hole. Sometimes you see guys get loose down into the tri-oval and spin out, so it ends up being where some of the wrecks are caused. It’s really hard to push through that tri-oval, especially as you are heading down into that bottom lane. It’s tough to know exactly where you need to be at the end of the race but, for me, I’ve only won one of them there. In that particular race, we were tandem racing and I was second coming into the tri-oval and was able to get past Jamie McMurray. But I would still rather be leading and in control. If I’ve made it to the white flag, then I’ve made it a lot farther than I’ve made it lately, so it’s a chess match all day. You have to have a little bit of luck on your side, but you can also put yourself in a good position by making the right moves, having a good day on pit road and not making any mistakes.”
Thoughts on Talladega?
“I have no idea. You just show up and see how it develops. All you can do is show up for a weekend at Talladega and see how it develops and go from there.”
TIM FEDEWA, Spotter of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Is Talladega one of the most difficult places to spot?
“It’s a tough place to spot. It’s intense at Talladega for everybody. Being in the draft is intense for the driver and for everybody. You just have to bring your ‘A’ game.”
What is the hardest spot to see at Talladega just because of how big it is?
“Turn four is toughest. Turn three, you have a bit of an angle, but the backstretch, depth perception is a bit of a struggle at times. It’s so flat back there that you can tell someone is out of line, but you don’t know if there are two more lanes out there or just the wall. You can think you are in the middle and then two cars can go outside of you instead of the one you thought. So that’s a bit different. Turn four is probably the hardest just because you are looking straight at them, but we face that at a lot of racetracks. Talladega is tougher just because we’re so far away.”
With the limited amount of crew members, there are times where you are guiding Harvick into the pits because Rodney (Childers, crew chief) is catching a fuel can or has other pit duties. Is that a challenge?
“It can be. At Charlotte, it was a little tough because we were down in turn one and I think we were pitting in stall 36 (toward turn four). You can see it OK, but your depth perception is a little different. If someone comes in front of him, you can’t tell how far out they are. But, to be honest, it’s been pretty straightforward.”