Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick holds the special distinction of being his generation’s most dominant driver at this week’s Phoenix Raceway. With an unequalled nine victories on the desert one-miler – including an unprecedented four straight from 2013-‘15 – Harvick has led the most laps (1,595) and in the last 16 Phoenix races, only finished outside the top-10 one time. He hasn’t finished worse than ninth since 2013. He is the only driver in series history to win consecutive races here, multiple times.
The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford has seven of his nine victories and a pair of runner-up finishes in just the last 15 races – essentially every other race he’s won or finished second in that time.
His 110.5 driver rating is understandably tops among the competition and he is averaging a 9.2 finish – the only driver in the Top 16 in the driver standings with an average finish inside the top 10. His Loop Data stats are quite impressive as well, his average running position (8.418), laps in the top 15 (7,814) are also best in the field this weekend.
In the three races since the track’s repave in 2018, however, Harvick has two fifth-place finishes and a ninth-place showing and has led 73 laps (all in in the 2018 Playoff race). Very uncharacteristically, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion has not led a lap in the last two Phoenix races.
Harvick shows up this weekend the only driver in the series to have earned top-10 finishes in the opening three races of 2020. He is fourth in the driver standings and trails points leader Ryan Blaney by 12 markers following California.
“I felt like last year, with that particular rules package, we definitely weren’t as good as we had been in the past,’’ Harvick said, suggesting it was the different car style not the change in Phoenix layout that may have affected recent performances.
“I think with the 2018 package (used now), I think we were in the game. It’s been a great race track for us as we’ve gone through the years and a place that we go to expect a win. And I don’t see that any different, no matter what the rules package is, the expectations from our side are the same and that’s to go there and have a chance to win. We didn’t do that last year, but the expectations didn’t change.’’