Harvick takes winning momentum to Richmond

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Updated: 4/25/2014 2:04 pm

Harvick, who is in his first year as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, became the first repeat winner of the season with a victory in the most recent race on April 12 at Darlington. His first win this year came on March 2 at Phoenix.

After taking last week off for Easter, the series resumes its schedule this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Richmond is the ninth race of the season. The regular season will conclude after the series competes here again the first weekend in September.

Driving for Richard Childress Racing from the start of his Cup career in February 2001 to the conclusion of the 2013 season, Harvick has won a series race at Richmond three times, including a victory one year ago. He has also scored 16 top-10 finishes in 26 events at this three-quarter-mile track.

In addition to his Sprint Cup duties, Harvick is competing in Friday night's Nationwide Series race here, driving the No. 5 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.

"I always look forward to coming to this race weekend just knowing that and hoping that you can contend for a win," Harvick said. "Hopefully, we can put ourselves in a good spot throughout the weekend and be around somewhere at the end of both races."

Harvick holds the record for most Nationwide wins at Richmond with six.

"This has just been a great racetrack for me, just for the fact that for whatever reason it has fit my driving style through the years," he said. "I grew up on a lot of flat, worn-out racetracks, and my days at [Richard Childress Racing] we spent a lot of time on our flat track program and short- track program. My driving has become accustom to these types of tracks."

Harvick's first season at SHR has had its share of highs and lows. After winning at Phoenix, he finished outside the top-35 in four of the next five races before his victory at Darlington.

It's been a season of twists and turns for SHR as well. Kurt Busch, also in his first year with SHR, won at Martinsville last month. But Busch has finished 31st and 39th in the past two races. Tony Stewart struggled at the start of the season but has rebounded with four top-10 finishes in the last five events. Danica Patrick's best finish this year is 14th, which came in Fontana, Calif.

"I think as you look at the organization I think we have a lot of room for improvement, still a lot of new things that are happening," Harvick said. "Obviously, we have been through eight weeks, and we know that there are a lot of things to work on and improve on that is exciting just for the fact that we have been able to run well with our car. Kurt [Busch] has won a race, and Tony [Stewart] has been knocking off some top-fives.

"So I think as you look at everything from the outside looking in I'm sure it appears that everything is going well and everything is going well. But from the inside, I just feel very strongly that there is a ton of room for improvement with a lot of things, so we just have to keep working and not sit on our hands."

While Harvick has two wins, six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has yet to drive into victory lane this season. Johnson has struggled at Richmond lately, finishing outside the top-10 in the past three races here. He's won at Richmond three times but his most recent victory here occurred in September 2008.

"We suck here," Johnson admitted. "We're terrible, and hopefully, we are a lot better this weekend. The last couple trips, especially, we have been junk."

Forty-five teams are on the entry list for the Toyota Owners 400.

Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Saturday, April 26. Race: Toyota Owners 400. Site: Richmond International Raceway. Track: 0.75-mile oval. Start time: 7 p.m. ET. Laps: 400. Miles: 300. 2013 Winner: Kevin Harvick. Television: FOX. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.

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