Author: Mike Brudenell
Date: June 9, 2015
Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick is on an incredible streak entering Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
One that the Stewart-Haas Racing driver wouldn't mind continuing yet bid goodbye to every bit as much.
Harvick, who drives the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John's Chevrolet, has finished second in his last four starts at MIS in Brooklyn.
Harvick, 39, notched his eighth runner-up finish of the season at Pocono on Sunday to race winner Martin Truex Jr.
"It's a good and bad thing," Harvick told the Free Press. "It's a good frustration, I guess, but is frustrating nevertheless."
The yin-and-yang-type year Harvick is having hasn't really hurt him too much, of course.
He leads the points standings by 39 over Truex and is running more consistently than ever.
Harvick has victories at Las Vegas and Phoenix this year and won at Michigan in 2010.
He likes the big track in the Irish Hills.
"The recently repaved track at MIS is ageing nicely," said Harvick, who was raised in Bakersfield, Calif. "The groove has definitely spread out and it has become a little more racy. We should be running incredible speeds again in qualifying there. We should be able to draft well, too."
In June 2014, Harvick grabbed the pole at MIS with a one-lap qualifying record of 204.557 m.p.h., only to see it broken by Jeff Gordon in qualifying for the August race at 206.558.
"Michigan is a super fast track," Harvick said. "Now, we just have to win there again."
As Cup champ, Harvick has seen his role in the sport change. Kids look up to him, older fans seek his autograph and he enjoys that.
"I have to take my responsibilities seriously," said Harvick, who describes himself as "excitable" but maturing.
"I think I have struck a new balance in my career and attitude to racing and life in general."
Harvick says joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 and teaming with Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch has been a positive move for him.
"It's been a great situation for me," said Harvick, who was with Richard Childress Racing in 2001-13. "I've been very fortunate to be there with Tony, Gene Haas, my crew chief, Rodney Childers, and the rest of the group. They all work so hard and deserve all the success they get."
Harvick, who has 30 Cup victories, wants to reward Childers and his team with more wins as the season continues, fewer runner-ups.
"Look, we are fortunate to be where we are, but we won't argue with a victory or two more before the Chase," said Harvick, the 2007 Daytona 500 champ. "We will keep riding the wave, get up when we are knocked off and ride it again."
Last weekend at Pocono, Harvick started fifth and finished second, his 10th top-two performance in 14 Cup races thus far in 2015.
He was pleased enough — and more so for Truex and his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, who has been fighting ovarian cancer since radical surgery last August.
"Some things are more important than winning," Harvick said. "Like seeing Sherry smile last weekend; that's what it's all about."
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