By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
Heading into Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, it’s clear that Stewart-Haas Racing is the team to beat, just as they have been on 1.5 mile tracks all season long.
With wins in three of the last four 1.5-mile tracks, dating back to last November at Texas, and a perfect record on these types of tracks thus far in 2018, Kevin Harvick leads the way for the team. Stewart-Haas as a whole has been extremely fast from the start of the weekend in the Lone Star State, making the statement that they won’t be going down without a fight when it comes to winning on Sunday.
“Everything has gone fine and it all started or a lot of it started right here in the fall last year winning here for the first time and being able to get to victory lane and do the things that we did at the end of the year,” said Harvick. “It is fun to be able to ride that momentum. You never know when it is going to shift the other way.
“The whole company is doing a great job. Clint (Bowyer) winning last week and Aric (Almirola) and Kurt (Busch) doing well. It has been a great start to the season for Stewart-Haas Racing and we have been fortunate to win a few of those races and hopefully we can do the same this weekend.”
All four of the team’s entries have shown speed in every practice and qualifying session, with them topping the board in Friday’s first practice and qualifying, with SHR cars starting 1-2-3. In the other two practice sessions, they may not have been at the top of the board, but they all turned in speeds that would land them in the top-five.
“I think as you look at the 1.5 mile program in general it has been really good for us. I think the thing you guys forget up until last year is that we had dominated the 1.5 mile race tracks and have continued to do that at the end of last year and the first part of this year. We did switch manufacturers last year and it took some time to get everything situated and where it needed to be. I think once the playoffs started last year you really saw where the cars were and the increase in performance, especially on the 1.5 mile race tracks. It just took us some time.”
With the performance that Stewart-Haas has shown thus far in the season, Harvick issues a warning to other teams that they still have room to get better as the year goes along.
“When you see what Stewart-Haas Racing has done with Ford, we still haven’t reached the potential of where we can be, in my opinion. I think that is the biggest reason we made the switch, the potential of the resources and things that come with the partnership with Ford.”
Harvick also threw a jab in at Martin Truex, Jr. and Furniture Row Racing, as they have been their biggest competitors on 1.5 mile tracks as of late. Truex won seven 1.5-mile races last season.
“We are better than Truex.”