FONTANA, Calif. — Kevin Harvick couldn't stop tweeting about his enthusiasm for arriving in his home state.
"I wish I could explain to you all how excited I am to race in California this week!" he tweeted Monday.
Was he looking forward to hanging out at Auto Club Speedway — the track closest to his native Bakersfield? Or perhaps just pumped to visit a venue where he raced in his early days?
Actually, Harvick said Friday he's just excited to show up at every track these days.
"I know we've had a couple parts failures the last couple weeks, but realistically, we could have won every week," Harvick told USA TODAY Sports. "The speed in the car is just unreal."
Despite a 39th-place finish last week after a broken oil line — this coming on the heels of a 41st-place result at Las Vegas — Harvick said his team has easily shrugged off the bad luck. After all, a dominating win at Phoenix has already made Harvick a virtual Chase for the Sprint Cup lock despite sitting 21st in the point standings.
"Nobody's bummed out," he said. "Everybody's just excited. I don't think anybody would have thought we'd start off this well, this fast."
Of course, there are perks to racing 150 miles from where he grew up. Harvick's sister and friends will be at the track this weekend, and he got to reunite Thursday with buddy Jeff Carter, who plays hockey for the Los Angeles Kings. Harvick also visited the set of Modern Family, where he hung out with actor and friend Eric Stonestreet.
But more than being close to where he was born and raised, Harvick said he loves racing at Auto Club Speedway. Like Phoenix International Raceway, Harvick runs well at Fontana and can fondly recall racing in the Winston (now K&N) West Series and getting his start in the Truck Series in the late 1990s.
"I've been here and raced on it and seen it go through its transitions," he said. "I've got a lot of good memories here."
Harvick is also hoping to create good memories through a Budweiser social media contest called #SpeedTweets, where fans answer trivia questions posed by the@BudweiserRacing account.
Each weekend, the winner gets an entry into a go-kart race in Charlotte, in which Harvick will also compete.
So is Harvick worried that the go-kart race against his fans could get a little too competitive, like when friend and country music singer Jake Owen lost part of a finger last July?
"It's really more about the experience than anything for the fans," he said. "It's kind of up to me to protect myself and do what I need to do to make sure that everybody has fun and not turn it into this great competition."
Harvick praised Budweiser and other sponsors Jimmy John's and Outback for doing "unique things that try to give you an experience you remember and not just something like everybody else is doing."
"Fans are what make our sport go around," he said. "It's a lot easier to have fun with it than it is to put your guard up. I've learned that over the years. It's too much work to not have fun.
"We'll probably have more fun standing outside the go-karts BS'ing than we will actually do racing go-karts."
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