If Kevin Harvick had to hand-pick a track to race in a “win-or-go-home” situation, he would likely choose Phoenix International Raceway.
Harvick boasts a series-best five wins at the one-mile tri-oval and has taken the checkered flag in three of the last four races there, including the past two.
Currently eighth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500 cutoff race at Phoenix (3 p.m. ET on ESPN) could not have come at a better time for the No. 4 Chevrolet driver. Harvick trails Jeff Gordon by just six points for the coveted fourth – and final – spot needed for advancement to the Championship Round race at Homestead.
But, he can make can punch his ticket to Miami without having to rely on the misfortune of others by winning for a third consecutive time at the one-mile track.
Coming off a runner-up finish at Texas, Harvick travels to the Sonoran Desert with some needed momentum after opening the Eliminator Round with a 33rd-place finish at Martinsville. Equipped with a fast Stewart-Haas racing Chevrolet, the 38-year-old has led the most laps in the series this season (1,819) and has captured the most Coors Light Pole Awards (8). Harvick boasts three wins this year, the most-recent coming at Charlotte on Oct. 11.
To put Harvick’s Phoenix success into context, the track was repaved for the 2011 fall race, making it completely different with changes that included concrete pit stalls, progressive banking and degree alterations to the dogleg and turns. Since then, he has won three of the six events there and also posted a runner-up finish. In his 18 Phoenix races prior to the repave, Harvick averaged a finish of 13.8. In the six races since, he has an average of just 6.2.
With a victory on Sunday, Harvick can sweep the track for the second time in his career (2006).