Kevin Harvick could hardly be in a better position to win another Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday night.
He is perhaps NASCAR’s hottest driver, with three top-10 finishes in his last four Sprint Cup races. He’s won twice this season – tied for most on the circuit with Joey Logano – effectively locking him into a spot in the season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup.
And as the 600’s winner in 2011 and again in ’13, he knows his way around Charlotte’s 1.5-mile layout pretty well. The bottom line: He doesn’t allow himself to feel comfortable, no matter how well he’s running.
“You have to keep yourself in this race,” said Harvick, explaining why he has had so much success in NASCAR’s longest race. “We always feel like we can make our car better even if we’re leading the race. We can always find something to work on. But sometimes you can also send that the other way. You just have to make good decisions through the night.”
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Another factor for Harvick this season has been his move from Childress Racing to Kannapolis-based Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick finished third in the 2013 Cup standings as a lame-duck driver for Childress.
Harvick says he has never been on a better team and enjoys working with crew chief Rodney Childers for the first time.
“(Stewart-Haas) has given us every resource we have asked for,” Harvick said. “You never talk about money. It’s just, ‘What do you need, and how do we get it for you?’ How do we get better?’
“They went out and recruited Rodney, and he went out and recruited every single person on this team. They all came here for the same reason. They want to win races and race for championships. When you put those kinds of people together with that determination, everybody pushes everybody else. So you just have to ride the wave and try to keep getting better.”
Harvick’s two victories this season were at Phoenix and Darlington, S.C. Since winning at Darlington in May, he’s been 11th at Richmond, seventh at Talladega and second at Kansas.
“We want to win every race,” he said. “It is such a different mentality than what (I’ve) been used to in the past. We’ve had the speed to run for the win in every race. Our cars are fast every single week. But you are going to lose some.”