Kevin Harvick has gone 11 straight NASCAR races without a win. No, he’s not worried.

By Alex Andrejev
The Charlotte Observer/TNS
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford, waits on the grid prior to  the NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 21, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Lest you forget Kevin Harvick’s dominance in 2020, the NASCAR driver sat poised on Zoom on Tuesday between two of the nine trophies he won last year, a reminder that one bad finish at Las Vegas this week can’t take away his 58 career Cup wins.

Harvick spoke with reporters ahead of Sunday’s Cup race at Phoenix, where he’s led nearly 15% of the series laps he’s run at the one-mile dogleg oval — his highest percentage of Cup laps led at a single track. Despite the 20th-place finish after starting on the pole last weekend, the driver is ready to move onto better performances.

“Most of my races are over by Monday whether we’ve won or lost,” Harvick said, adding that “angry takes too much time.”

The No. 4 Ford team was the highest finisher of the four-car Stewart-Haas organization Sunday, and Harvick acknowledged that they “just missed it on all levels.” But he didn’t seem phased by his team’s recent finish due to the particular challenges of Las Vegas and the fact that it’s still early in the season. NASCAR has run four races so far on three different styles of tracks.

“Vegas is a tough racetrack just because of the fact that it falls into a lot of different categories as far as ride quality, aerodynamic balance,” Harvick said. “Do you want to work on the front of the car or the back of the car? Do you go to the wind tunnel and use up some of your wind tunnel time and how do you put that into your simulation?”

Harvick noted that this weekend’s Phoenix track is drastically different than last weekend’s 1.5-mile speedway in Las Vegas. The racing will probably look different, too, with different aero and engine packages being used between the two speedways.

After a No. 4 winless streak that’s carried through 11 races starting at the end of last season (Harvick’s most recent winless streak that lasted longer was the beginning of 2019), Sunday’s finish and Stewart-Haas teammates all finishing out of the top-10 in the first four races this year, it’s fair to wonder whether there’s concern among the team over an emerging pattern. Harvick, however, seemed unconcerned.

He said his advice to his younger teammates, Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer, about overcoming their early struggles this year would be to maintain the perspective of, “It’s a one-week-at-a-time grind.” Harvick also brushed off skepticism that he’d still dominate at Phoenix this weekend given his latest finish at the track (seventh) at last year’s season finale, calling it a “silly question” when asked about whether his team is still an automatic threat there.

“I would consider us a challenger at just about any racetrack that you go to, but you’re not going to be that way all the time,” Harvick said. “So I think as we go to Phoenix, you expect to go there and perform well.”

He said it’s hard to tell if the early trend of different winners this year will continue throughout the season, but he doesn’t see it as abnormal. What is perhaps more abnormal is the recent low finish among Harvick’s three top-10s that opened the year, and the driver indicated he sees the result as a product of the team being “off.”

“But but three out of four have been just fine for us,” Harvick said.

“It’s a drastically different racetrack this weekend, so I don’t think that those are really the same conversations that you would have about Phoenix as you would have about Las Vegas,” Harvick said. “So we’ve gone through Las Vegas and that’s really about it.”