Harvick Looks for Phoenix Rebound

Kevin Harvick

"I look forward to going there just for the fact that I grew up racing there and just enjoy the race track." (Photo: Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick’s Daytona 500 didn’t go as planned with a blown engine but he looks to come back with a strong run Sunday in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Starting the year with a 42nd-place finish as Harvick did after the engine failure in “The Great American Race” was not the way the Richard Childress Racing driver had hoped to kick off the new year.

But he’s ready to put it all behind and concentrate on getting into the regular grind of the season with this week’s trip to PIR, which occupies the post-Daytona 500 slot on the schedule for the first time.

“When you lead off with your biggest race, the Daytona 500, there’s really no race on the schedule that can match the hype and the anticipation of that particular race, so it is kind of the first official week of what it’s going to be like on the weekly grind as we go to Phoenix this year,” Harvick said.

Moving Phoenix into the second position on the calendar is a good move in Harvick’s eyes who likes both the race track for competition and the opportunities that are presented by bringing NASCAR to Arizona after Daytona

“As we go to Phoenix, it’s a short track and as we go there this time, it’ll be the last time we get to race on that particular surface,” he said of the reconfiguration planned for PIR in time for November’s return NASCAR visit. “It’s a challenging race track and it’s a big market for our sport. I think to carry that momentum from Daytona to Phoenix is going to be exciting for all of us. I know I look forward to going there just for the fact that I grew up racing there and just enjoy the race track.”

The slide of Phoenix out of its usual April time frame to February means Sunday’s race won’t be held under the light. But that’s all right with Harvick.

“I love racing in the day because I love when the race track gets slick and you have to manage the car and the tires and everything that goes with that,” he said. “That’s definitely something that you have to do there. It really changes the complexion of the race when it’s in the day. I think it’s the right thing to do to be racing on Sunday afternoon at Phoenix.”

Harvick has a lot of laps around the one-mile desert oval and has experienced various successes over the course of his racing career at PIR. But it wasn’t always that way. He overcame some early struggles but once he figured out how to run well at Phoenix his performance was impressive until recent years when it’s more difficult for Harvick

“It has been a struggle for us the last couple of years and really our mile-and-half and superspeedway (programs have) been our best and our short track stuff has been the weakest,” he said. “I feel like over the last 10 weeks everything was strong (last season). We’ve just got to continue to work at it.”

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kevin Harvick

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