By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
*Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into next month’s 61st running of the Daytona 500.
Years in Cup: 18
Career Wins: 45
Biggest Accomplishment: 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion
While the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season was one of the best in Kevin Harvick’s career, he failed to walk away with his second championship. Opportunity awaits in 2019 as Harvick returns to the No. 4 Busch Ford Mustang at Stewart-Haas Racing.
In 2018, Harvick earned a career-high eight victories. He also earned 23 top-five finishes, tying his career best. 29 top-10 finishes marked a new career-high for the Bakersfield, CA native. Harvick also earned four pole positions and won the Monster Energy All-Star Race. He finished third in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, behind eventual-champion Joey Logano and Martin Truex, Jr., finishing third in the final points standings.
Harvick’s eight victories last season add to his total at SHR. He now accounts for 22 of the organization’s 32 victories since 2014. Harvick is also the teams’ most recent champion, having won the 2014 title.
While little is changing on his No. 4 Mustang for 2019, Harvick will have a new teammate in Daniel Suarez, who replaces the departing Kurt Busch. Suarez is the third new teammate at the four-car operation in three years for Harvick. Clint Bowyer joined the team in 2017 as did Aric Almirola last season.
Harvick will also face a new car as Ford Performance moves from the Ford Fusion to the Ford Mustang for the 2019 season. The unknowns abound as whether Ford will struggle as their Chevrolet counterpart did with the introduction of their Camaro ZL1 last season.
Another unknown is the new tapered aero package. Last year’s All-Star Race incorporated a different, restricted version of this package. Harvick started fourth in the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion and won, leading 36 laps in the process. He also ran a version of this package in the Xfinity race at Michigan International Speedway last season. Harvick finished 8th in the rain-shortened event.