2014 Sprint Cup championship preview: Kevin Harvick


Driver: Kevin Harvick
Age: 38 (will be 39 Dec. 10)
Full-time seasons in Sprint Cup: 14
Career starts: 501
Career wins: 27
Career top-5 finishes: 113
Career top-10 finishes: 228
Pole positions: 14

* 2014 record to date: 35 starts, four wins, 13 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. Eight poles. Laps led: 2,083. Average start per race: 9.2. Average finish per race: 13.3. Lead lap finishes: 26.

* Highest single-season finish to date: Third, 2010, 2011, 2013

* Season finishes to date: 2001 (ninth), 2002 (21st), 2003 (fifth), 2004 (14th), 2005 (14th), 2006 (fourth), 2007 (10th), 2008 (fourth), 2009 (19th), 2010 (third), 2011 (third), 2012 (eighth), 2013 (third).

* Homestead Record: 13 career starts, 0 wins, 5 top-5s, 11 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Second in 2003 and 2008. Average start: 14.0. Average finish: 8.1.

* Year-by-year finishes at Homestead: 2001 (seventh), 2002 (20th), 2003 (second), 2004 (10th), 2005 (eighth), 2006 (fifth), 2007 (19th), 2008 (second), 2009 (third), 2010 (third), 2011 (eighth), 2012 (eighth), 2013 (10th).

Will “Freaky Fast” finally earn his long-awaited first career Sprint Cup title?

Kevin Harvick has waited nearly 14 seasons to be in the position he is today. He’s long been considered a championship contender, but has never been able to seal the deal.

Will he finally be able to do so Sunday in the Sprint Cup championship-deciding season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway?

From an experience standpoint, Harvick has the most of the four title contenders. But in his first season at Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick and his team had some definite and noticeable growing pains, particularly on pit road.

It was for that reason that Harvick and SHR switched pit crews with teammate and team co-owner Tony Stewart just before the start of the Chase, an unusual move of timing. And while there have been a few bobbles along the way, there is no question that Stewart’s crew has helped get Harvick to where he is now.

“The progress that we’ve made this year is really something that I think we’re all proud of,” Harvick said, “just for the fact that we were able to knock off a win early, we were able to overcome so many problems, we’ve won a race in the Chase now, we’ve gotten this far in the championship race and we’ve done really well as a group.

“We’ve built a race team from scratch, really from not one nut or bolt in a trailer and not one race car. Everyone has done a great job and everyone at SHR has given us the financial ability and all of the tools that we needed to go about building a race team how we wanted to. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of.”

Harvick came close to winning the Sprint Cup championship several times during his 13-year tenure at Richard Childress Racing. Even though he threatened to leave the team at least twice along the way, he always returned.

But after the 2012 season, Harvick decided it was time for a change, that perhaps he had run his course at RCR. So he announced 2013 would be his last season, and that he would be headed to SHR for 2014.

In an interesting twist of irony, the man who Harvick replaced at SHR, as well as who essentially replaced him at RCR, is one and the same, and also finds himself in the final four Chase contenders: Ryan Newman.

Still, Harvick feels he made the right move by going to SHR and now he stands just 400 miles away from that long-awaited championship trophy and ring.

I think for me and my confidence, when I climb into the car every week, I know that thing is going to be fast, and if it’s not, I know we can figure out what we need to do to make it better,” Harvick said. “I’m just really proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing and particularly my team for everything that we’ve built this year and been a part of.”

Harvick’s overall record at Homestead is quite respectable, especially the fact that in his 13 starts there, 11 have ended up in top-10 finishes.

While a top-five may potentially win it for him (and he has five of those, as well, at HMS), a win is the only thing Harvick has on his mind for Sunday’s race.

That way, he won’t have to worry about counting points. As the saying goes, “May the best man win.”

And Harvick believes he indeed will be the best man Sunday.

“This is all about winning a championship,” Harvick said. “That’s what we all show up for. We all want to be competitive on a weekly basis, but at the end of the year, you want that championship trophy.

“I think I’ve been fortunate to have won all of the marquee races and won at different race tracks, Nationwide championships, Truck championships as an owner, so we’ve been able to achieve a lot of things.

“That Cup trophy is the one thing that’s eluded us up until to this point. I definitely want to check that off of the list and be able to experience that for not only myself, but for all the guys that work on my car and haven’t been able to win that championship either. It’s been fun and hopefully we can reach that goal if not this year, at some point.

“We’re going to approach it as having a good time, having fun and really try to keep it as low key as possible, just for the fact that this is what we all signed up to do — to race for a championship and to go to Homestead and just have a chance,” Harvick said. “So, let’s go down there and go for it and see where it all winds up.”

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change