For Kevin Harvick, Texas Motor Speedway has become like trips to the home of a demanding mother-in-law: Whatever he does, he just can’t win.
Harvick, in Stewart-Haas’ No. 4 Chevrolet, edged Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the finish line for second in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Duck Commander 500.
But he ultimately remained winless at Texas Motor Speedway after having what appeared to be the best car for a good portion of the race.
In being outrun by winner Jimmie Johnson, Harvick fell to 0 for 25 in Texas despite leading 96 of the 334 laps of the 500-mile race.
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Nonetheless, Harvick, the defending series champion and its current points leader, finished in the top two for the ninth time in 10 races, dating to TMS’ race in November. That date spurred a late-season dash to the title.
“I’m not disappointed disappointed at all,” Harvick said. “Racing for wins is what we’re here to do. That’s what we come to do is compete. We haven’t put it together at this race, but we’ve led a lot of laps the last two times we raced here.
“Hopefully we’ll save the first win for the Chase race in November.”
While Harvick fell for a 25th time at TMS, it’s not as if he hasn’t had success in Fort Worth.
The 39-year-old actually has six race titles, including five Xfinity Series victories and a first in the Camping World Truck series at TMS.
Harvick said he lost some balance in the car and then late in the race found himself hung up behind Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano. Harvick almost sent Logano into the wall to finally get around the 22 car.
Harvick leads Logano by 26 points in the series standings.
“Those guys are unstoppable right now,” said Earnhardt Jr. of Harvick’s team. “I’m surprised he didn’t win. It could have been either one of those guys.”
TMS is the track that Harvick’s team has circled on the calendar. He joked earlier in the week that the biggest reason he wanted to win so that track president Eddie Gossage would “leave me alone” about it.
He’s making progress with five top-10 finishes in his last seven starts here.
Saturday marked the first of the 25 career starts at TMS that he led more than two laps. He entered having led only eight times total.
“As you come to a track where you haven’t won and we’ve been fortunate to knock a lot of those off the list over the last year and a half, or so; so it’s definitely something that everybody knows that I want to do, personally,” Harvick said before the race.
“And a lot of them haven’t gotten one here either. So it’s definitely a race that we circled to start the year.”