BROOKLYN, Mich – After securing his first victory of the 2019 season three weeks ago in New Hampshire, Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team feel not only a giant monkey off their back, but that the result finally equaled the team’s performance and expectation.
Since the victory, Harvick has scored two more top 10s. He won the pole position at Pocono, Pa. and led an impressive 62 laps. Last week he finished seventh on the Watkins Glen, N.Y. road course. In just the last six races, Harvick’s No. 4 SHR Ford has led 247 laps of his season total 544 laps out front – that’s 45 percent of his 2019 season mark.
BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN – JUNE 10: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Ford, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 10, 2019 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
And there’s plenty of reason to think that the positive vibe continues this week at Michigan International Speedway, where Harvick returns as defending race champion.
His career work at the two-miler is impressive. He’s won twice, had 12 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes and led 495 laps in 37 starts.
Last year, he won the August Michigan race and finished runner-up in the June version. He has six finishes of seventh or better in the last eight races at Michigan. In particular, since the 2014 champ joined Stewart-Haas Racing, he’s fared particularly well at this important venue located just outside America’s Detroit-based auto manufacturing headquarters.
In 11 starts with SHR, Harvick has the win last year and four runner-up finishes. He’s had top-five starts in five of the last six races. And Harvick has led 172 laps (34 percent of his career total) in just the last three Michigan races.
A good run this weekend is not only further confirmation that his team has this track figured out, but that the No. 4 group is in a good place for the 10-race Playoff portion of the schedule that begins in four weeks.
And with two of the sport’s auto makers headquartered nearby, this is an exclamation point race for Ford and Chevrolet. Ford has 38 victories there – the highest victory count for the company at any track the Cup series races – including the last three races.
Harvick, qualified second for Sunday’s race and was sixth, first and third respectively in practice this weekend.