NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 1 Kevin Harvick

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Starting today, MotorSportsTalk kicks off our review of what we consider the Top 30 drivers of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. How did they fare, what went right and wrong, and what can we expect from them in 2015. We’ll run the series over the next two-plus weeks, featuring two drivers every day. First up: 2014 Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick.

 

Kevin Harvick

Season finish: 1st

2014 Season Stats: 5 wins, 14 top-5, 20 top-10, 8 Poles.

What went right: Making a move to Stewart-Haas Racing after 13 seasons with Richard Childress Racing, Harvick came into the season with a lot of questions and unknown expectations. While his pit crew struggled throughout the first 26 races, prompting a “trade” with teammate Tony Stewart’s pit crew for the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, the one constant was Harvick behind the wheel. He drove like he never has, including continuing his niche as NASCAR’s comeback kid of sorts, rallying for several victories en route to five triumphs in 2014, tying his best season for wins (also had five in 2006). More than anything, Harvick drove with a new determination and confidence that carried him to lead the overall SHR organization in his first season. Perhaps the biggest statistic of all was laps led. He led 2,137 laps in 2014, which was nearly triple the number of laps he had led in any previous season. Harvick also became quite the prolific No. 1 qualifier. After just six poles in his first 13 seasons, Harvick earned a career-high eight poles in 2014. But perhaps the biggest thing of all was how he stayed cool under pressure during the Chase, particularly with wins in the final two races at Phoenix and Homestead, to assure him the championship. All that remains is one question: What does he do for an encore in 2015?

What went wrong: Harvick as a driver did very little wrong in 2014. But that can not be said about his pit crew, which arguably cost him at least 2-3 more wins and higher finishes in other races during the first 26 events of the season. Dropped lug nuts, loose wheels, slow pit times and other maladies all hindered the No. 4 team at times. While crew chief Rodney Childers took the unconventional step of replacing the entire pit crew with that of teammate Tony Stewart to start the Chase, a very risky gamble indeed, it ultimately proved to be the right thing to do.

2015 Prospectus: Harvick and Childers are rock solid and are very capable of going on to win a second consecutive championship in 2015. The biggest question for the upcoming season, though, is what happens to Harvick’s pit crew – the original crew. Does the No. 4 team keep Tony Stewart’s pit crew, or do the traded units go back to their original teams in 2015? Or is there some type of hybrid, meet-in-the-middle decision where some of Harvick’s original pit crew returns and merges with some of Stewart’s pit crew? If Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers bring back the entire and original pit crew, will there be individual positional changes? Or will the hope be that the mistakes and errors that occurred during the first 26 races and 2014 ultimately be a learning experience that will only improve the crew in 2015. Time will tell, indeed.

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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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