Despite a frustrating 2021 season and a less than remarkable start to his 2022 campaign, Kevin Harvick was an exigent presence toward the front of the field in Sunday’s (March 13) Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Now, this performance has further cemented his place in the NASCAR history books as he ties two legends’ previous records.
Harvick’s sixth-place finish means the driver of the No. 4 car has tied seven-time champions Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the record of most consecutive top 10s at a single track, with a total of 18. Both Petty and Earnhardt collected 18 consecutive top-10 finishes at North Wilkesboro Speedway from 1968-1977 and 1983-1992, respectively.
Despite being near the front of the field for the majority of the race, the Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang lacked a crucial few ounces of pace throughout the day. Most notably, Harvick consistently struggled to find acceleration on corner exit, meaning he wasn’t unable to run side-by-side with or pass eventual race winner and teammate Chase Briscoe when it mattered.
Harvick also struggled in getting up to speed on restarts and fell short on long runs keeping pace with the dominant cars of Briscoe and Chase Elliott, among others.
The now 18-race long top-10 streak at Phoenix began at the fall race in 2013 and will stay alive at least until the Cup Series returns to Phoenix for the Championship Race on Nov. 6. Of the 18 top-10 finishes Harvick has collected in those nearly nine years, six have been wins, with four of those victories (Fall 2013-Spring 2015) being consecutive.
Harvick currently boasts the all-time record for NASCAR Cup Series wins at Phoenix, with a total of nine trophies in 39 starts; a 23% winning percentage. For reference, the next driver in line in terms of Phoenix success is Jimmie Johnson, with only four wins at the one-mile desert tri-oval.
Harvick’s performance was part of a larger upward swing, much needed at that, in Stewart-Haas Racing’s performance. Alongside Briscoe’s win and Harvick’s fourth-place finish, Aric Almirola finished 12th with Cole Custer following in 16th. While Almirola has been performing beyond his reputation in 2022, Custer was largely a non-factor through 2021 and 2022 until his No. 41 Haas Automation Ford made several appearances in the top 10 through the day at Phoenix.
The NASCAR Cup Series will head to Atlanta next Sunday (March 20), where Harvick holds three wins, including his fondly remembered maiden victory from 2001.
About the author
Alex is the IndyCar Editor at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also leads the Center for Asia-Pacific Policy at the BIED Society, an international think tank in Washington, D.C. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.