Avondale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick is hoping his streak of top-twos will reach seven this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, a track where he has won the last three times.
A streak dating back to last season, Harvick has finished either first or second in six straight Sprint Cup races. It began the first weekend in November when he was runner-up to Jimmie Johnson at Texas. Harvick then won the last two races of the season -- Phoenix and Homestead -- to claim his first championship in NASCAR's premier series.
Harvick finished second to Joey Logano in the Feb. 22 season-opening Daytona 500 and then runner-up to Johnson in the March 1 race at Atlanta before winning at Las Vegas this past Sunday.
Harvick, the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, became the first competitor in the series to finish in the top-two in six consecutive races since Jeff Gordon last accomplished the feat in 1996.
"I think that just comes down to the guys on my race team and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing for just bringing really good cars to the racetrack, and in particular the No. 4 team, in being able to capitalize and manage the weekends and races and keep the cars together and do all the things that it takes to just make laps and keep yourself in contention," Harvick said. "Just really proud of everybody on my team for everything that they've done, and hopefully we can keep it rolling. We'll try to ride the wave as long as we can."
Harvick is the current leader in the Sprint Cup point standings. He holds a nine-point advantage over second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Phoenix has been Harvick's best racetrack over the years. His six Sprint Cup race wins at this flat, one-mile track is more than any other competitor. On Sunday, he will attempt to become the first driver to win four races in a row here. Johnson won three straight at Phoenix from 2007-08.
Since this track was repaved and reconfigured in 2011, Harvick has been the most dominant driver here. He led 224 laps in the spring race and 264 laps in the fall event at Phoenix last year, en route to a season-sweep.
"Honestly, the reconfiguration has definitely worked out better for us than I thought it would because, when they first did it, I thought we had really figured out what we needed to do on the old surface and then they changed the surface," he said. "We kind of picked right up and almost went better than it did on the old surface with the new surface.
"It's just kind of one of those things where you figured out a couple of little things that help you, and I know the feeling that I want my car. I know what I want it to feel like in practice and in the race. If we can achieve that, then usually we are competitive. It's just interesting how you find those places where you know what you want to feel and it just works."
When Harvick won at Phoenix one year ago, it came in just his second start with Stewart-Haas Racing. He went on to score four more victories during his Sprint Cup championship season.
"I think that was big for us, for sure," Harvick said of his win in the spring race at Phoenix in 2014. "I think as you look back at that particular moment, it was one of those things where getting that first win out of the way was a big deal. It's exciting to be able to know that we knocked the first one out and then knocked several out in the championship after that, so that is pretty cool stuff."
In Friday's lone practice session, Harvick turned in the fourth fastest lap at 138.132 mph. Logano topped the speed charts at 138.771 mph.
Forty-five teams are on the entry list for the CampingWorld.com 500. Kurt Busch, who is Harvick's teammate at SHR, returns to racing after NASCAR lifted his indefinite suspension on Wednesday.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, March 15. Race: CampingWorld.com 500. Site: Phoenix International Raceway. Track: 1-mile oval. Start time: 3:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 312. Miles: 312 (500 kilometers). 2014 Winner: Kevin Harvick. Television: FOX. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.