Harvick Hopes for Happy Darlington Return

Kevin Harvick

Harvick: “This track is probably highest on my list to try to get a win, so I’m looking forward to going there this weekend to see what we can do." (Photo: Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick is hoping for a much different and successful outing in Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway than a year ago.

Harvick was involved in an incident-filled night with Kyle Busch in the 2011 edition of the legendary race that boiled over with the two ramming into one another on pit road after the checkered flag had flown.

The events led NASCAR to place both drivers on probation in the aftermath of their behavior and Harvick says he has no plans for a repeat performance this Saturday night.

''It's just easier to not have to answer the questions from your sponsors, or your team,'' Harvick said of avoiding controversy. ''It's a little bit of a difficult situation that it puts everybody in. It's just easier not to be involved.''

Harvick would rather focus his energy on righting the Richard Childress Racing No. 29 team’s ship after a pair of rough outings the last two weeks in Richmond and Talladega.

Although Harvick comes into the 11th race of the season fifth in the Sprint Cup Series point standings, he has stumbled in recent outings including last Sunday’s Aaron’s 499.

He battled running out of fuel and overheating issues in the second restrictor-plate race of the season before finally getting knocked out of the race in a multi-car accident.

“It was another one of those racing deals.  I guess two guys got crossed up there on the restart and just blocked the track,” Harvick explained after his 25th-place finish. “Talladega is fun racing to watch and I enjoy it, but NASCAR has got us in a terrible box as far as temperatures and things like that. You run around in a pack at 260 (degrees) and the engines just can’t survive those conditions.”

Harvick has made 15 Sprint Cup Series starts at Darlington Raceway during the past 11 seasons. In those races, he has scored two top fives and five top-10 finishes and would love to add his name to the long list of race winners at the legendary track.

“It'd be pretty awesome because of the fact that everyone knows the significance of the Southern 500 and to win at Darlington is something, as a driver, that you want to check off your list,” said Harvick. “We've been close at Darlington, but we've just got to put the whole package together and make it happen."

The 1.366-mile track is one of the most unique in NASCAR. Because of its odd layout and narrow racing groove, Darlington provides drivers with a difficult challenge over the course of 500 miles.

“The track was not originally designed for cars to be running as fast as they are today,” said Harvick. “The track's very narrow and you carry a lot of speed. From a driver's standpoint, it's very challenging just to keep the car off the wall, but it's also a lot of fun to drive."

The track’s historic legacy is also not lost on Harvick.

“As you go to Darlington, you see the deep history of the sport,” he said. “This track is probably highest on my list to try to get a win, so I’m looking forward to going there this weekend to see what we can do.”

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