Kevin Harvick has had a kind of a hate, like relationship with Charlotte Motor Speedway during his illustrious career with the emphasis on like in recent years. When he sat down with reporters in the media center on Thursday he reflected on where he once was and where he is now, both at the track and in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
Harvick’s first race at CMS was back in 2001 and his debut was a good one finishing second to Jeff Burton in the Coca-Cola 600. In the Bank of America 500 later that year he would run eighth and little did he know at the time he would go a decade before he would enjoy that kind of success again at the North Carolina track.
During that drought, Harvick managed just two top-10s in 18 starts, but on May 29, 2011 Harvick finally broke through with a victory. Since then he added another win and has finished outside the top-10 just once making CMS one of his favorite stops on the Sprint Cup circuit.
“That was one of our goals, to figure out what to do,” Harvick said about CMS. “We focused a lot on trying to not have that be the stigma that sticks in our minds as we come to this particular place. We’ve run a lot better since the car changed (NASCAR’s Gen 6 vehicle), for us it was a good thing. It created new setup packages and things that fit more of my driving style. It’s been a good place for us the last several years.”
Harvick enters the weekend third in the points behind five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and leader Matt Kenseth courtesy of his win at Kansas from the pole a week ago. He jumped one spot and is seven ahead of Jeff Gordon for fourth with six races to go.
“I feel good about coming into the weekend and obviously we won the first race here so we just have to keep doing the things we’ve been doing, feel good about where we are coming to the track,” he said.
History shows that coming from behind in the Chase after four races with the current format is very difficult, but Harvick doesn’t see that as an issue.
“Everybody’s written us off since the beginning of the year to not be in the Chase and let alone be competitive and winning races,” he said. “We’ll keep bucking the system and see how it turns out.”