Thursday, June 20, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-06-20 16:19:37)
 
Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

MORRISTOWN—Over the last seven races, Kevin Harvick has become the hottest driver on the NASCAR circuit.

The superstar, who took over the reigns after the death of the late Dale Earnhardt in February of 2001, has captured a pair of wins. He also scored a runner-up finish in last Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway.

The recent flurry of finishes has placed Harvick fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings, just 62 points behind five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. The two wins that Harvick has scored this year puts him one behind Johnson for the series lead, and those victories may prove crucial in the standings when the series goes into the Race for the Chase.

Despite those final 10 races of the 2013 NASCAR season being the last races that Harvick will run in a Richard Childress Racing car, the 12-year veteran said it is just as important run well regardless of his standing with a team. Harvick will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing, after spending his entire Cup career with RCR after the death of Earnhardt on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

“Obviously, if it is the first year or last year, whether it’s at RCR or somewhere else, it’s still a competition,” said Harvick, who spoke to the media prior to a meet-and-greet with fans at the grand opening of Ollie’s in Morristown. “You still want to go out and do the best you can.

“That’s what everybody is out there to do,” Harvick said. “You want to race as hard as you can and win races and we are fortunate to be doing that right now.”

The past seven races have been a turnaround of sorts for Harvick, who came out of the gates slow to
start the 2013 season. Harvick logged only one top-10 finish, in the third race at Las Vegas, in the first eight races of the year.

Harvick was consistently on the cusp on the top-10, but unable to break the threshold until taking home a win at Richmond on April 27. Since the breakthrough, Harvick has taken home six top-10 finishes, with the only race he didn’t score a solid finish coming at Talladega.

Since winning the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend, Harvick has finished eighth, ninth and
second in the last three races to elevate him to fourth in the standings.

“Everything the last few months have definitely gone well,” Harvick said. “I think the performance of the cars has been really good through the whole year, we had just made some mistakes early on.”

Harvick said that the highest level of the sport is all about taking advantage of having quality race cars and capitalizing on those opportunities.

“We weren’t able to capitalize on some of the better cars that we had,” Harvick said. “That stuff came full circle and we’ve been able to put ourselves in position to win some races and we’ve won a couple of them.”

Taking advantage of those opportunities is what Harvick said puts distance between those atop the standings and those drivers who are struggling to earn a wildcard berth into the Chase.

“To capitalize on (opportunities) is what you’re supposed to do,” Harvick said. “When you minimize your mistakes, finish races and keeping yourself in the race - you put yourself in good position and
you have to capitalize on those.”

That is what Harvick will continue attempting to do as the series moves on to Sonoma this weekend and he tries to stay near the top of the standings in pursuit of his first Sprint Cup Championship.

“We just have to keep doing with we’re doing,” Harvick said. 

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