Kevin Harvick Shares His Strategy For Taming The Lady In Blackby Hunter Thomas May 12, 2023 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Kevin Harvick has finished inside of the top-five on seven occasions in the last nine races at Darlington Raceway. On Sunday in the Goodyear 400, look for Harvick to be a serious contender if he’s able to stay disciplined, get clean air and conserve his tires.
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season is slated to be Harvick’s last. The Bakersfield, California native has been competing full-time in NASCAR’s top series since 2001, when he took over Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s Richard Childress Racing team following his passing. So far this season, Harvick has been performing well, but after four consecutive finishes outside of the top-10, it’s time for him to earn his fourth top-five of the season, and Darlington is a great track for him to do that.
“I know the characteristics of the racetrack, as far as having to respect it and racing the track,” Harvick said. “I know what that means, and I’ve definitely been in the wrong position and got carried away and had it bite me before. But it’s a place that I look forward to going to. It’s a place where I enjoy racing and love the challenges that go with it. I think over the last several years we’ve been fortunate to have some success there, and the expectation is to go there and have a chance to race up front and put yourself in contention. So, that’ll be the expectation as we go back this time and, hopefully, we can do that and have some fun.”
Darlington Raceway is a great track for Harvick. In fact, he has earned three wins (2014, 2020×2) and has an average finish of 12.8. Throughout his career, he has finished inside of the top-10 in 60% of the races that he has competed in. Harvick believes that discipline is the key to success at getting around the track, Too Tough To Tame.
“Darlington favors the guy who can be very disciplined and is able to push the car right to 99.9 percent of where that tire run is, and be able to put the car up against the wall and not overstep those boundaries,” Harvick said. “You have to be very disciplined there to get everything out of the car and keep up with the tire fall-off and not tear anything up – on your own, let alone being around everybody else.”
The challenge of getting around Darlington is that drivers must race the track, and that is difficult to do when there’s heavy traffic. One wrong slip, and a driver will earn a “Darlington Stripe”. Harvick says that restarts, clean air and taking care of the right rear tire is extremely important to ending up in Victory Lane at the end of the day at Darlington.
“You’ve got to know when to let somebody go, because you can make it a lot harder on somebody to pass than what it used to be with the things that go on aerodynamically with this particular car,” Harvick said. “The biggest thing that you have to do is get the restarts right and get yourself really singled out, and once you get singled out, then you can start making some different decisions on when to let somebody go, when to not let somebody go, how hard to fight somebody, and things like that. It just takes one moment there to slip up and the right-rear toe link will be knocked off the car. You can rub the car up against the wall, but if you clip that right-rear tire wrong, it’s going to be the end of your night.”
The weather in Darlington this weekend is projected to be fairly hot, but there will be off-and-on cloud coverage, so it’ll be interesting to see how much the cars slide around the egg-shaped track. Conserving tires is essential to getting around Darlington, but no matter the challenge, in 30 series starts, Harvick has seen it all.
“With this particular car, you’ve just got to be careful with how much you abuse the tires because it drives off the right-rear tire so much that you have to think about that a little bit differently,” Harvick said. “It didn’t seem like that was 100 percent the preferred way to do it through (turns) three and four the last time. You’ve just got to be as easy as possible on the right-rear tire.”
The NASCAR Cup Series will hit the track for the first time on Saturday, May 13 for practice at 10:35 a.m. ET Qualifying will take place at 11:20 a.m. ET on Saturday as well. The Goodyear 400 on Mother’s Day will begin at 3 p.m. ET on FS1.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com