Change in team and emphasis has improved Kevin Harvick’s qualifying

In 13 years with Richard Childress racing, Kevin Harvick won six poles.

When he moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, Harvick won eight poles in his first season with the team.

With SHR, Harvick is a threat to win the top starting spot wherever he races. He has five front-row starts this year, including two poles, and has qualified in the top 10 in all but two of 14 races. In those two events, Harvick never made a qualifying run—at Bristol after a wreck in practice forced him to a backup car, and at Charlotte when his No. 4 Ford failed to clear pre-qualifying Inspection.

To Harvick, the dramatic shift in results from time trials is primarily about priorities, both on his part and on the part of his organization.

“It is really just preparation,” Harvick said on Friday after qualifying second for Sunday’s Pocono 400 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “For me, in my previous life, it was about not worrying about qualifying and just get what you can get and go from there. The emphasis was different when I came to SHR, and the difference was that there was a lot of preparation and time spent in the differences of the setups and things you needed to do.

“The expectations were much different. When the expectations are different, it makes you think about things differently. There are two different processes. For me, I feel like I can do what I need to do on the race track for the race, but I prepare more for qualifying on a weekend more than I do a race, if that tells you the emphasis they put on it.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.