NEW HAMPSHIRE Motor Speedway’s winningest NASCAR Cup Series driver is looking for a win at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino 301 in Loudon this weekend.
Kevin Harvick, who currently sits at ninth in the overall points standings this year, said a win Sunday would be a big payoff for the team’s work so far this year.
“It would be a huge momentum builder,” Harvick said in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Following Harvick’s career-high nine wins last season, he has yet to win a race this year.
He said this year’s team has been gritty, despite the cars not being as fast as they have wanted them to be.
“Our guys have done a good job with everything,” he said.
Harvick, 45, is in his 21st full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series. He is currently tied with Jeff Burton as the winningest NASCAR Cup Series driver at NHMS with four wins. He last won in Loudon in 2019.
Harvick said the flat track style of NHMS has contributed to his success there.
“I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with the flat tracks in my early career,” he said. “We have done fairly well up there.”
But he also noted that it is hard to be consistent at “The Magic Mile.”
“We have had some good and some bad races. You can get stuck in the hornet’s nest. Sometimes you get stuck up high or down low,” Harvick said. “It’s a tough place to get up front and stay there.”
Harvick began his Cup Series career in 2001 when he took over Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s spot on the Richard Childress Racing team after Earnhardt’s deadly crash during the Daytona 500.
He said his most memorable race at NHMS was the 2001 New Hampshire 300, his first time at the track. While it was originally planned for Sept. 16, it was postponed until Nov. 23 due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, making it the season finale. Snow had covered the track just the week before, Harvick said.
“It was something so totally different than the others. 2001 was a very different season,” he said.
Although Harvick placed 26th in the race, according to Racing-reference.info, he said he gained affection for the region.
“It gave me a different appreciation for the New England race fans. I never knew there was such a race community,” he said.
Harvick said he has a better connection with the fans in this part of the country.
“I enjoy coming up to New Hampshire,” he said. “It’s more than just having been successful.”
Harvick’s racing days began in California when his father bought him a go-kart when he was in kindergarten, he said. Racing turned into a hobby, and then a career. He traveled around the country with his dad and grandfather. Now, he does the same thing with his son, Keelan.
“That’s what NASCAR racing is,” he said. “It is a family sport.”
Harvick said he was excited to see racing return to its family roots during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(Kart racing) blew up during COVID because you can distance yourself from others,” he said.
As for his street-legal wheels, Harvick said he likes to blend in rather than show off. His Ford F-150 pickup gets him from point A to point B, with plenty of room for kids and car seats.